Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Pilot Review: Rebel

Rebel (BET)
Premiered March 29 at 10pm

If you thought “Shots Fired” was this season’s fieriest new drama about racial prejudice in the police system in the United States, you’d be wrong. This BET original lets its protagonist speak for herself, not content to be silenced or even interrupted when she’s trying to assert herself and stand up for the rights of everyone, regardless of their skin color. Shooting her partner so that she could save her brother’s life only to see him gunned down by arriving officers who misinterpreted the situation was quite the intense start, but this show was headed in a completely different direction by the start of its second hour, with Rebel starting her private investigator path with a deep dive into the Chechen mafia. This is inarguably a breakout role for Danielle Moné Truitt, who makes Rebel instantly unforgettable and full of fury. I immediately recognized two actors in this cast, both with a long list of previous roles that have shown their talent. Mykelti Williamson takes over the part played by Denzel Washington, his onscreen brother in “Fences,” as the family-oriented father whose drinking and ego tends to get the best of him. Giancarlo Esposito, who was so incredible on “Breaking Bad,” is the one true friend on the force that Rebel has, and though no role could realistically compare to Gus Fring, this is a good showcase for him. This show’s pacing was all over the place in these two first hours, jumping from passionate romance to serious danger and much more lighthearted personal interaction in a matter of moments. This show may impress some - two hours is more than enough for me.

How will it work as a series? Being a private investigator is going to allow Rebel much more opportunity to color outside the lines and not play by the rules. That’s also going to make her a lot of enemies, but something tells me that will simply help her thrive and make her more successful. I don’t know how believable this show will be on a weekly basis, but I’m not sure that was every part of the deal.
How long will it last? I can’t find much in the way of ratings or review data aside from a dismal 0.2 rating on Metacritic from users, representing “overwhelming dislike” (based on only 5 ratings, of course). I think that this show could be a good flagship scripted series for BET, and I think that even if it’s not the best show on the air or even the network, it’s certainly got spunk.

Pilot grade: C+

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