Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pilot Review: American Crime

American Crime (ABC)
Premiered March 5 at 10pm

I think someone needs to compile a guide that details the differences between this show and “Secrets and Lies” and whether anything actually makes either of them worthwhile. To me, this is yet another “event series” that doesn’t appeal at all, with no discernable qualities to make it stand out from any other show that might have aired before it or will air in the future. The big sell here is that this particular series comes from creator John Ridley, who won an Oscar last year for penning the screenplay to “12 Years a Slave.” While that is a great movie, it was a rather sprawling and lengthy movie, and I don’t quite see how it translates to a modern American crime drama. There have been numerous shows about one crime that span an entire season or longer, and I wouldn’t classify most of those as a success. This show does have some solid and thrilling music as its score, and it’s just a shame that the developments it chooses to pair with its soundtrack aren’t nearly as enticing or exciting. I was never a fan of “Leverage,” where Timothy Hutton found himself nearly three decades after winning an Oscar at a very young age, and I don’t find him to be remotely appealing or enthusiastic here. Felicity Huffman is at her toughest and most intense, which could make her a decent accidental villain but for now just makes her steely and cold. I was a big fan of Benito Martinez, who also appears in season three of “House of Cards,” back when he first started on “The Shield,” and I just don’t see this as a role that does his talents justice. There’s too much going on here, which isn’t to say that it’s too complicated but rather that it’s too much of an effort to try to connect it all, and no piece on its own is remotely interesting enough.

How will it work as a series? With this start, it seems obvious that three families are destined to interact in only miserable ways – those related to the victim, those related to the survivor, and those related to the accused perpetrator. It’s certainly a hot-button, multicultural drama, but not one that feels overtly original or worthwhile.
How long will it last? It may actually do well as a result of the prestige others have given it, and pulled much better ratings than “Secrets and Lies” when it started a week earlier. I wouldn’t get behind this show as an enduring success just yet, but for now I think it’s one of the stronger bets to survive to next season.

Pilot grade: D+

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