Monday, November 21, 2016

Pilot Review: Good Behavior

Good Behavior (TNT)
Premiered November 15 at 9pm

British actress Michelle Dockery spent six years starring as cunning self-starter Mary on “Downton Abbey,” and now that the series is over, I think everyone is interested to see what she’s going to do next. Getting out of the early part of the twentieth century and England seem like the first two steps, and we’re introduced to Letty, a small-time thief and con woman fresh out of prison trying to make ends meet so that she can get back to the child that she’s no longer able to see because of her drug use. Early into this two-part premiere, we got to see Letty at her comic best, responding to a cab driver asking if she needed change from a twenty for a nine-dollar fare, “What does your heart tell you?” It’s hard to tell what kind of person Letty she is, since she’s happy to rip just about anyone off but she also has clear boundaries about not killing people. She did a magnificent job of playing Javier to get inside his hotel room and find out the information she needed to save his mark, only to find out that, despite her interference, the hit happened anyway. Her deep immersion in the next job and her inability to prevent it have broken her to a degree, but she still has her own way of doing things and her commitment to get out of her situation despite being completely trapped in it. Dockery is definitely the right person for this role, offering a complex take on her character supported by the suave suspicious calmness of Juan Diego Botto’s Javier. Terry Kinney contributes positively as her unconventional parole officer, someone I suspect won’t quickly stop looking for her. I’m not sure this show is going to prove to be must-see TV, but I’m intrigued enough to give it another shot to see where it goes.

How will it work as a series? That’s the unknown – right now, Letty is at Javier’s mercy, but she’s also very good at being a con woman, and therefore the two of them could make a tremendous team if he gave up his murderous ways and just focused on regular thievery. Something tells me she won’t go along that easily, though, so it’s a question of how that plays out for both of them.
How long will it last? It looks like reviews have been pretty solid, and Dockery’s first role post her long-running part should definitely attract viewers. Unfortunately, the ratings weren’t as solid, and so this show is going to have to develop a solid critical following to convince its network that it’s worth keeping on the air. Given all the advertising that I’ve been seeing for months for this show, I suspect TNT will still invest in it.

Pilot grade: B+

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