Monday, January 26, 2015

Pilot Review: Backstrom

Backstrom (FOX)
Premiered January 22 at 8pm

I feel like I saw the trailer for this show so long ago (and I did, back in the fall), and my excitement for it then was about comparable with my enthusiasm for it now, which was looking listings and realizing that it was starting. I thought Rainn Wilson was a terrific part of “The Office” specifically because he wasn’t the lead character, and playing someone so over the top like Dwight fit in the format of a comedy series. This must the thousandth police drama to premiere featuring an irreverent detective at the helm whose motives and methods make sense to no one yet who miraculously manages to outsmart and outperform everyone else on his team. Wilson does give his all to the role, but it’s a lamentable situation. It’s also disappointing to see Dennis Haysbert, once the great presidential candidate on “24,” in a thankless cop role that won’t allow him much creativity or gravitas at all. This pilot didn’t include anything particularly interesting, as each one of Backstrom’s eccentricities failed to land and instead fell flat. While his partner Nicole may be relatively intelligent, she’s the only mildly intriguing personality in the whole bunch. I don’t know who decided to let Kristoffer Polaha back on television after his horrific performances in “Made in Jersey,” “Ringer,” and so many shows before that, and I’m least entertained by his out-of-place intellectual forensic tech. I don’t think I was ever going to watch this show, but Wilson’s involvement made me think that it might be a bit worthwhile, and this debut installment proved that wholly wrong.

How will it work as a series? This show is based on a book series, and as if there weren’t enough cop plotlines that could be explored, there’s an actual set of stories that could be pulled directly to create scripts. I think this pilot was likely a fitting preview of what the show will be like, which for me is not promising.
How long will it last? The ratings for the pilot weren’t bad, but they’re not terrific by FOX’s standards. Doing better than the short-lived “Rake” did last year in the same timeslot is hardly a badge of honor. I don’t think TV is looking for the next great brilliant detective procedural, and a short midseason life is all this should get.

Pilot review: D-

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