Tom Payne and Michael Sheen are no match for their respective roles as police profiler and his serial killer father. "With a broadcast show, it takes a certain degree of moxie to go full-on ridiculous, right from the start — those hourlong dramas that appear serious – yet are so serious the only choice is to laugh – can alienate viewers before they hook ’em," says Ben Travers. "Sure, there are some beautifully loopy success stories, but those usually evolve their weird energy over time, pushing too far only to discover it works or amassing so many goofy ticks that acknowledging them is the only way to keep going. Prodigal Son, the new Fox drama that turns the Clarice Starling/Hannibal Lecter relationship familial, is chock-full of batsh*t energy immediately. Even though Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver throw everything and the kitchen sink into the first three episodes, their serial killer series still feels more bad than 'so bad it’s good.'"
Prodigal Son needs a "marshmallows-only version": "Give me a cut of this show that's exclusively Michael Sheen and Bellamy Young chewing scenery — Tom Payne can stick around so that they have somebody to play off of — and I would watch it every single week," says Daniel Fienberg. "I'd give it my highest recommendation and praise it as one of the best new broadcast dramas in years. But if you make me wade through 30+ minutes of completely fungible weekly crime-fighting to get to the tasty parts? This isn't 1995 and there's too much available TV to tune in regularly for a 42-minute broadcast drama of which I love only five minutes. On the other hand, how many new broadcast shows do I love even five minutes of? Not that many."
Why Michael Sheen agreed to play a serial killer: "What I want to see in a pilot episode is lots of possibility, options, and things to potentially explore," he says. "I thought this was fascinating: We have a character who has done some of the most awful things that a human being can do and yet seems to be a loving father. He has all these contradictory things in him, and this central father/son relationship seems really problematic — in a good way. I just thought there was so much under the surface to look into and explore and be interesting and that’s perfect for a pilot episode because you think we could go anywhere."