King & Maxwell: Deeks and Kinsey Lite!

King & Maxwell - Jan Thijs

TNT’s King & Maxwell (Mondays, 10/9C) is created by Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles) and based on a series of bestselling novels by David Baldacci. With those bloodlines – and TNT’s declaration that ‘We know drama’ – you would figure that this should be something special. Well, I haven’t read the books, but the series feels very – no, make that too familiar.

Sean King (Jon Tenney) and Michelle Maxwell (Rebecca Romjin) are ex-Secret Service agent turned private eyes after each was fired (the presidential candidate he was protecting was assassinated; her charge was merely kidnapped). Now they work together and we meet them as they apprehend a would-be blackmailer dressed in a beaver suit, driving a tour bus.

By the end of the teaser, we’ve learned that King’s mentor and friend, Ted, has been murdered and the lead FBI agent on the case, Frank Rigby (Michael O’Keefe) – whose main purpose for existence on the show (or, at least the pilot) seems to be to hate the leads and be made to look stupid by them – thinks they’re incompetent and/or involved somehow. His partner, Agent Darius Carter (Chris Butler), seems to exist solely to look at King & Maxwell with sympathy in the shared realization that his partner is an asshat.

King’s late friend was a lawyer who was representing an alleged serial killer named Edgar Roy (Ryan Hurst), a high-functioning autistic savant who worked for the IRS for eight years before mysteriously changing jobs. Shortly after they begin to investigate on their own, King & Maxwell are thrust into the middle of another murder when Ted’s secretary is murdered and made to appear as if Maxwell did it.

All that’s left after that is Ted’s latest mentee, Megan (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) – a sharp cookie who has joined the Rigby Hates Me Club by filing a motion to have all of Ted’s files returned on grounds of privilege.

The King & Maxwell pilot is fast-paced and filled with banter, but after the excellent opening chase sequence (marred by the use of a song that has been run into the ground in action sequences), the show turns into an okay PI dramedy with the usual witty banter, misdirection and stock characterizations.

While Tenney and Romjin have decent enough chemistry, their characterizations are basically NCIS: Los Angeles’ Deeks and Kinsey as PIs. Neither Tenney nor Romjin really get much of a chance to do anything either original or fresh. Perhaps Rigby will come to hate King and Maxwell less, but I’m guessing it’s not likely – and if Carter gets to be more than the guy who has be apologetic for his awesomely jerky partner, I will be surprised. Edgar Roy is the only character who is even slightly interesting and he’s only a bit more than a stock character, himself.

The actual mystery is pretty weak – if you’re paying attention, you should have it figured out about the same time as King (which is well before the final act). The clues are that obvious.

If you’re looking for a show that features Deeks and Kinsey Lite, then King & Maxwell is the show for you. Which is not to say the show won’t get better – Rizzoli & Isles started out pretty awful and got pretty decent. All I’m saying is that King & Maxwell probably needed a little more development before they shot the pilot.

Final Grade: C

Photo by Jan Thijs/Courtesy of TNT