12:00 pm EST, February 2, 2016

The ‘Limitless’ series is better than the movie (and you should be watching it)

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Of all of the well-received movies in the world, Limitless isn’t one you hear a lot of people talking about. Ever. And yet, CBS adapted it into a television series.

Who would have known that that series would end up being even better than the movie? (Especially with how Minority Report, a similar movie-to-TV adaptation, fared during the same TV season.)

CBS’ Limitless is one of my favorite new shows this television season. Out of all of the shows that I watch (new and otherwise), it has been one of the ones I look forward to most during the week since the very beginning. It’s fun, exciting, and all-around entertaining. What more could you ask for?

On the bubble about giving CBS’ Limitless series a try? Here’s how it surpasses its movie predecessor and why you really should be watching it.

The main character is empathetic and charming

Limitless' Brian Finch is adorable

It’s so much easier and more enjoyable to root for and watch Brian Finch than it is to watch Eddie Morra. By far. While Morra and Finch both have less-than-prosperous lives before they encounter NZT, Finch at least has a good heart. He’s someone you want to succeed and be happy, whereas Morra is sketchy from day one. Plus, when they both start taking NZT, Morra becomes increasingly selfish and calculating while Finch is just in awe of what he can do and wants to help people.

Did I also mention that Brian Finch is a stitch and a half? It’s impossible not to laugh at least once during an episode of Limitless. (Can’t say the same thing about the movie.)

This show has such a fun cast

CBS Limitless ensemble

Limitless (the movie) is all about Cooper’s Eddie Morra. Yes, there are a few other characters surrounding him, but they’re on the periphery of the story. They’re there for Morra to use and that’s about it.

If the show had taken the same approach, it would be really difficult to watch and probably wouldn’t do all that well. Plus, if it was all about Finch, the character of Rebecca Harris wouldn’t exist and that would be a travesty. Not counting Brian Finch, Agent Harris is one of the best parts of the show. And then there are the two agents who look after Finch, Mike and Ike, as well as Naz the bureau director… Needless to say, while it is a show about Brian Finch, the rest of the cast is pretty solid.

The special effects and visuals are stunning

CBS Limitless special effects and visuals

Though the Limitless TV show continues the idea that the movie introduced of the world looking brighter and more colorful (visually) when the main characters are on NZT, the visuals in the show are much more interesting. My favorite has to be the Limitless credits sequence. The movie had a similar sequence in it that demonstrated how NZT was affecting Cooper’s character, but the show’s credit sequence takes it to a whole new level with colors and movement. It’s just beautiful.

The show has also found interesting ways to display and convey data that’s running through Finch’s mind and invisible to anyone else around him. The creators take great care in their visual presentation of ideas and the way in which Finch sees the world. Limitless is not only fun to watch, but it’s also just fun to look at.

The story is complex, yet easy to follow

CBS Limitless storytelling

Is it just me, or is the storytelling in the Limitless movie kind of vague? I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision, but I felt that I never really knew what was going on while watching it. And then it just ended. I think the movie is about people who want more NZT coming after Morra, but I’m not 100% sure (especially when it comes to the corporate part of the story).

The television medium is great for Limitless because it allows for multiple stories at once, giving them room to breathe. Plus, the TV show structure almost pretty much guarantees clarity in storytelling because it’s linear. So, Limitless can introduce complex ideas or interesting plot points without worrying about losing the audience.

The best test of the show making more sense than the movie? You don’t need to see the movie before watching the show. But I felt like seeing the show before watching the movie helped me understand the movie more.

The show has a really creative way with storytelling

Limitless' tribute to Ferris Bueller

Not only does the show’s storytelling make sense, but it’s done with a real sense of style. Limitless isn’t your average serial TV show. Many episodes have a fun flair or twist to them. What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of the episodes have a certain theme or visual gag to them.

For instance, the most recent episode has Brian’s mind replacing all of the awful words he sees and hears (like murder and corpse) with super happy and ridiculous things (like unicorn and rainbows). And then there’s the episode where Limitless pays homage to Ferris Bueller. That one is definitely one of my favorites.

This show may be procedural in structure, but it has such a great personality and character to it. You really just have to see it to believe it.

Bradley Cooper’s Morra is more of a hindrance than a highlight

CBS Limitless Bradley Cooper

For some shows, guest stars can be real highlights. For instance, in a lot of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., appearances by Marvel movie characters were big events and things to look forward to because the show was still having a few issues in storytelling and getting its footing.

Limitless does not have that problem. In fact, the show is better when Bradley Cooper’s Eddie Morra isn’t on screen. Yes, his face is really nice to look at, but the character really slows things down and sucks some of the fun out of the show. Episodes with him are noticeably darker (in tone and visual appearance) and keep us from a lot of our favorite characters.

Limitless doesn’t need guest appearances from the wonderful and talented Bradley Cooper to survive. The show is actually much better off without him. (And that’s saying something.)

It’s entertaining

CBS Limitless super fun

Confession: If I were to have seen the movie when it first came out, I don’t know if I would’ve started watching the show. Yes, it’s an interesting action film but it’s just so joyless. I don’t care about any of the characters (including Morra, who I watched the movie for in hopes of gaining more compassion for him in the show) and nothing about being able to access more of the brain seems fun.

I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on the Limitless series. It has a really great balance of humor and dramatic stakes. Sure, there are pretty serious things going on (what with Brian helping the FBI with some grisly cases), but the show knows what it is and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Limitless is such a fun show and definitely worth watching. Just try it. You won’t be sorry.


Have you watched CBS’ ‘Limitless’? How do you feel about it?

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