Prodigal Son: Season 1 (2019 - 2020)


Season 1
Prodigal Son

Critics Consensus

Though it shows promise, Prodigal Son sidelines a spectacular Michael Sheen in favor of a more pedestrian procedural that often drifts too deeply into the grotesque.



Critic Ratings: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 401

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Air date: Sep 23, 2019

The series premiere. Malcolm Bright knows how killers think and how their minds work, because his father, Dr. Martin Whitley, was one of the most notorious serial killers, called "The Surgeon." Alongside his longtime mentor, Gil Arroyo, and detectives Dani Powell and JT Tarmel, he helps the NYPD solve crimes by profiling killers, while also dealing with a manipulative mother, an annoyingly normal sister, and a homicidal father still looking to bond with his prodigal son.

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Air date: Sep 30, 2019

Bright jumps at the chance to help Arroyo solve a quadruple homicide for the NYPD. As Bright slips into the mind of this serial killer, he finds himself dealing with the repercussions of seeing his father for the first time in years. Tormented by the terrors of his childhood, Bright is faced with whether his nightmares actually happened.

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Air date: Oct 7, 2019

Malcolm gets his dream interview opportunity when the NYPD zeroes in on one of his and Martin's favorite psychologists, Dr. Elaine Brown, who may be involved in a homicide linked to an LSD-laced psychology trial. Meanwhile, as his night terrors continue to evolve, Malcolm checks in with his trusted childhood therapist to discuss new theories on what exactly he witnessed as a child; and the consequences Gil, Jessica and Ainsley learn that he has been seeing his father again.

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Air date: Oct 14, 2019

Malcolm realizes his father's killing spree may not have been a surprise to everyone in his family. While Malcolm continues to investigate his past, the murder of a famous model and social media influencer sends him, Gil, Dani and JT on the hunt for a stalker with a creepy eye for design.

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Air date: Oct 21, 2019

Malcolm searches the depths of his mind to unravel the mystery of "the girl in the box," but with his night terrors and lack of sleep increasing, his real life becomes more and more of a blur. When the NYPD investigates a homicide they assume is linked to a drug cartel, Malcolm discovers a secret about Dani's past that draws them closer together.

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Air date: Oct 28, 2019

Bright uncovers a photo of himself and Martin from when he was a kid, which forces him to focus on the repressed memories from his childhood psyche. Meanwhile, he finds himself bonding with a young boy connected to the NYPD's latest homicide. Also, Jessica and Malcolm finally agree on one thing: they must put a stop to Ainsley's idea to interview "The Surgeon."

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Air date: Nov 4, 2019

Bright's quest for answers about his childhood leads him to a junkyard, where he's bombarded with gunshots. Narrowly escaping, Bright and the NYPD discover multiple bodies on the scene, with victims spanning decades. Gil, Dani, Frank and Bright must investigate this serial killer who Bright suspects has something to do with "The Surgeon." Meanwhile, Ainsley's exclusive interview with Martin takes an unexpected turn, forcing her to team up with Bright.

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Air date: Nov 11, 2019

As the NYPD digs into the "Junkyard Killer" case, Malcolm realizes the main suspect may have had a connection to his father. As news regarding this serial killer spreads, Ainsley itches to be the first one on the case, while Jessica panics, fearing she may never be able to leave the past behind

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Air date: Nov 25, 2019

Martin is locked away in solitary confinement and the FBI takes over the Junkyard Killer case. Malcolm uses his spare time as an excuse to try out a "normal" lifestyle. Things go well, until he accepts a challenge to "profile" his date. Meanwhile, the NYPD tracks a new homicide that's linked to an elite underground sex club.

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Air date: Dec 2, 2019

Knowing that the "Junkyard Killer" was in cahoots with his father, Malcolm goes against the FBI's wishes and continues to investigate. His findings reconnect him with a disgruntled ex-detective who was once heavily involved in the search for "The Surgeon," delivering them both into danger. Meanwhile, the holidays are anything but jolly for the Whitly family, when an epic blowout with Ainsley leads Jessica to take matters into her own hands.

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Critic Reviews for Prodigal Son Season 1

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (14)

"Prodigal Son" isn't going to set ratings charts on fire, but it's a solid mystery/drama after a long Monday, one that plays on our increasing obsession with serial killers and grisly murders with an engaging, talented ensemble.

Mar 17, 2020 | Full Review…

Some tonal tweaks could turn this eagerly outrageous crime drama into something enjoyably out there, but for now, it's just the craziest "Silence of the Lambs" knock-off yet.

Sep 23, 2019 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
Top Critic

Prodigal Son is more than several cuts below that Oscar-lauded classic. Still, it's better than chopped liver, of which Dr. Martin Whitly has shown he knows a thing or two.

Sep 23, 2019 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Top Critic

As this doesn't take itself seriously, it's hard to know why we should, and the result is plain hammy. In fact, as ham these days is 82 per cent injected water, this may even be more hammy than actual ham. Yes, I'm pretty sure it is.

Aug 3, 2020 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Much cleverer than it pretends to be. Which isn't very.

Aug 3, 2020 | Full Review…

Fortunately Payne can sparkle to order, and Sheen makes the simple greeting "My boy!" drip with malice, glee, neediness and guile.

Aug 3, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Deliciously camp.

Aug 3, 2020 | Full Review…

This is an instantly addictive show, dominated by the blackly comic Sheen but also sprinkled with delicious character roles, not least Bellamy Young.

Jul 29, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Like most network television premieres this fall season Prodigal Son pilot feels not quite ready for primetime.

Mar 17, 2020 | Full Review…

The Fox show is full of quippy lines, serial killers, and plenty of childhood trauma. But it gets its spirit from Lou Diamond Phillips and the makeshift family his character creates.

Jan 31, 2020 | Full Review…

The genius-madman routine is tiresome, but the cast - including Bellamy Young ("Scandal") as Martin's wife and Malcolm's mother -- gives it all they've got.

Nov 7, 2019 | Full Review…

"Silent Night" deserves lumps of coal in its stocking.

Sep 25, 2019 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Prodigal Son: Season 1

  • Oct 12, 2020
    Builds throughout the season and doesn't disappoint! Bring on season 2 and the amazing cast of "Prodigal Son"!!!
  • Sep 09, 2020
    Exciting. Keeps you guessing
  • Sep 03, 2020
    This show definitely keeps you thinking about what's about to happen next, each episode leaves you with a cliffhanger that makes you want to keep watching. The show is easy to get into and each episode is unique but they all follow the same story line. Some episodes may be sensitive to viewers, there is a lot of details that are presented in each one. Currently just finished the first season and patiently waiting for the second one to be released.
  • Sep 02, 2020
    What (possibly) sounds like an intriguing premise with (some) talented actors is utterly squandered by inane scripts, cliched stories and Incomprehensible casting. Michael Sheen is wasted, and unfortunately fails to present any semblance of menace. He comes across as fundamentally too nice to be the monster he's supposed to be portraying. And we know he's supposed to be a monster because he's called that several times each show, as if the viewer needs convincing. A case of "telling a big enough lie loud enough and long enough and people will believe it, no matter how ridiculous the fabrication". Lou Diamond Phillips, always a joy to watch, is also short-changed. The showrunners clearly think Tom Payne is the star. Unfortunately he doesn't carry the weight of that responsibility well enough, coming across as a cut-price (and sleazier) Tobey Maguire. The actress playing Tom Payne's mum (whose name escapes me) is completely unconvincing as a mother. Not surprising, as in real life she's only 12 years Payne's senior. The rest of the cast are utterly forgettable. Now one could forgive these shortcomings, perhaps, if there was a decent stab at the psychological complexity of growing up the son of a serial killer (which, on deeper reflection, is increasingly preposterous). However, we are presented with an overcooked pastiche of pseudo-PTSD symptomology that though "unusual" and occasionally extreme somehow does not prevent the "hero" from functioning. Balderdash. Then we have the mother figure who, in one episode, clearly shows complicity in Michael Sheen's characters' multiple murders. But wait, minutes after that revelation, her behaviour is excused with some lame-ass excuse. All is forgiven: because she has children to look after. That she is the heiress to some high society fortune and her obvious crime be so easily disregarded highlights just how morally bankrupt this show is. Avoid.
  • Aug 18, 2020
    The trailers for this looked really interesting, unfortunately creating an expectation that this series just can't live up to. Scenes involving Michael Sheen are as engaging as you would expect (he is just immensely watchable doing anything) but are too few and far between. The rest is mostly pretty average, and as a result just feels like a drag to get throug to the next highlight.
  • Aug 05, 2020
    Twisted fun and wonderfully acted. You will never know what is coming next.
  • Jul 22, 2020
    The first half of the season was good with fun acting and story, the second half of the season got better.
  • Jun 26, 2020
    If you're old enough you remember the days when network TV produced truly visceral, intelligent and artistic programming. Think LA Law, Hillstreet Blues and The West Wing to name but a few. Now try to name anything on the big 4 that comes even close to matching those legendary achievements. Can't be done. What exactly happened here? In the golden age of content we see the streaming platforms and premium cable channels taking the ball and running with it in spectacular fashion while network execs get lost in trying to play catch up. And what bothers me most is that it's so apparent. Network shows feel like network shows - formulaic, overly safe, full of bad dialogue and cheesy beyond belief. Prodigal Son is so THAT show. If HBO made it imagine how great it could be but instead we are left with a decent premise that drowns in the weight of its own dogmatic approach. The great divide between the curators of great content and those of filler entertainment is the lay of the land these days. Fox and its painfully average Prodigal Son show us that.
  • Jun 11, 2020
    Tom Payne and Michael Sheen are both a joy to watch. I'll admit there are times when some of the story lines get just a little flimsy. It wouldn't hurt if Bright wasn't always miraculously riggt but over all the show is engaging with mostly really good actors and has enough mystery to make you wanna return each week. I hope we get a second season.
  • Jun 09, 2020
    Love this show!! Binge watched it, couldn't get enough Michael Sheen is amazingly creepy!! And that ending! Bring on Season 2

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