Killer Women

Hats off to the first cancelled new show of 2014! If you can still catch an episode of Killer Women before they stop airing it, you have to watch it to believe how unbelievably bad it is. Sophia Vergara is a brilliant comedienne, but I don’t know what she was thinking when she put her name on this soapy western/procedural drama.

Killer Women Molly Parker

Don’t blink, or you’ll miss those micro-mannerisms.

In the show’s opening moments we meet Texas Ranger Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica), and she’ll be on screen pretty much from here on out. Don’t worry; she has enough costume changes to keep her interesting to look at if not listen to. Continue reading

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Law & Order

Law_Order_Season_One_cast

The Boy’s Club. Walking.

The New York Times recently ran a review of two new cop shows, Killer Women and Chicago P.D., wherein the writer referenced Dick Wolf’s journey as a creator of procedurals. Mega-producer Wolf has gone, as the writer pointed out, from president of the Boy’s Club to the guy who escorted Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) to fan favorite status. I just watched the pilot of Law & Order the other day, and indeed, the first thing I noticed was the gender imbalance. To use a phrase coined by The Black Nerd, there’s too much beef in the stew. Continue reading

Grimm

One could dismiss Grimm as just another police procedural with a sheen of fantasy painted over it. Fans of the show, which is on a lot of “best of” lists as 2011 draws to a close, will insist it is anything but. By all accounts it is a highly original show that puts a bona fide twist on the mystery-of-the-week formula. I, for one, have only seen the pilot. And based on this first episode, Grimm appears to be just another cop drama. It’s very possible that was the intention, seeing as NBC is the network that gave us the Law & Order franchise and has failed miserably in recent years with sci-fi and fantasy. So maybe creators Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt needed to present a first episode that felt tried-and-true. Their gambit worked. The show has now been picked up for a full season. Continue reading

21 Jump Street

Even for the ’80s the 21 Jump Street theme song is cheesy. Its peppy, synthesized beat puts one more in the frame of mind to watch teenagers dance on cafeteria tables than to witness the solving of gritty, hard core crimes. Most of Part 1 of this 2-part pilot, however, sets the tone for a run-of-the-mill procedural. A young, hot-headed new cop (Johnny Depp) is out to prove himself as worthy as his dead cop father and is paired with a cranky old partner (Barney Martin), months from retirement.

“It seems you like to roll in hot and kick tails,” the older cop barks. “…’Cause with that baby face you got everybody’s been kicking yours since the seventh grade.” Continue reading

Fringe

Fringe, from its beginning, is a character driven show. It’s a procedural, to be sure, but the pilot lets us know that three strong personalities are going to drive the action: FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), and Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble).

We don’t meet Olivia as badass cop woman. We meet her as she is falling in love, in bed with the object of her affection, sweet and almost demure. This is a reversal of the typical female action hero who is usually tough first, vulnerable later. It’s not as if Olivia’s a wimp; we see her in action soon enough. She’s part of a joint task force reporting to Homeland Security, which is called upon when a planeload of civilians die inexplicably mid-flight. Within in minutes we find Olivia chasing down a suspect and, after that, putting her brains to work to solve a mystery. During the chase her romantic and professional partner, John, is hit by an explosion. He winds up comatose, poisoned and dying from an unidentified contaminant.

John is introduced too early to survive. People who are happily together at the start of a drama pilot are destined to be torn apart. But that won’t stop our heroine from trying to save him.

Trying to discover the nature of the poison, Olivia is soon on the trail of a mysterious and insane researcher, Dr. Bishop, living in an institution. She demonstrates her powers of persuasion by travelling to Iraq to coerce the researcher’s genius son, Peter, into coming with her to bust him out. Dr. Bishop worked studied “fringe” science 17 years ago before being locked away in a stony vault.

When the bearded Dr. Bishop turns, ever so slowly and looks up at Olivia, we know we are meeting a powerful character. “I knew someone would come,” he intones. A bit like Temperence “Bones” Brennan, Walter thinks in pure facts. He may be a genius but his social interactions are painful to witness.

The episode is filled with quiet moments; long, awkward pauses at once suspenseful and humorous. Everyone has moments when a parent embarrasses them. It’s just more intense when said parent is a mental patient. Peter sure hates Walter, but as the viewer, we’re not sure whether either one has good intentions or bad.

Peter is a total ass to Olivia, but she doesn’t stand for it. You feel her frustration when she says, “You call me sweetheart one more time? I’d really like that.” It’s not an obvious sexual tension between them, as might be expected. Simply, they’re both strong people who know what they want.

As we delve further into the mystery of the poison, we’re introduced to Massive Dynamic, your basic giant, evil corporation. Its founder, a Dr. Bell, is Walter’s former partner. We don’t meet Dr. Bell, but only his Executive Director, a snippy woman with a super cool bionic arm. The pilot is double-length, basically a movie, so suffice it to say, this is only the beginning. We’re promised a future filled with teleportation, astral projection, reanimation and the like. More importantly, Olivia is at a critical juncture in her life and career.

The snowy cold landscape of Boston provides a distinctive atmosphere. The show is filled with interesting visuals: a cow walking down a crowded university hallway, a man with transparent skin, a woman in a tank hooked up to electrodes. Though it gets compared to The X-Files, and it’s even been suggested the two shows take place in the same universe, Fringe is unique in many ways. We know from the pilot that we’re headed down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole, which could easily get cheeseball, but there is promise that these characters will keep us coming back.