Tag Archives: Kathryn Morris

TELEVISION: Cold Case: When is A Standard Procedural Not a Standard Procedural?

Cold Case [CBS, 9/8C] deals with a team of detectives that solve “cold” cases – cases that that have long since been given up on – usually because some pertinent information has floated to the surface, figuratively speaking. The one thing they are completely unprepared for is a case that involves the here and now – and when the victim is one of their own, they find themselves in a place they’ve never been.

Cold Case - Officer Down

In Officer Down, Will Jeffries [Thom Barry] and Nick Vera [Jeremy Ratchford] stop so that Will can pick up some milk. When Will enters the corner store and goes to the milk cooler, he is shot from behind and left to die, along with the store owner, a neighborhood mainstay whom everyone calls “Pops”. From there, the episode deals with the reactions of the rest of the team – Lilly Rush [Kathryn Morris], Scotty Valens [Danny Pino], Lt. John Stillman [John Finn], and Kat Miller [Tracie Thoms].

They find themselves not only having to work in the present, but also trying to find who ambushed one of their own. From their initial responses [Rush gets the call as she’s jogging and pulls up short; Valens was in a dare with a gorgeous young thing and just drops her off near her home and pulls away even as she’s asking if “we can do this again?”], to their intensity in working the investigation, we’ve never seen the team as focused – or as frustrated.

Thanks to a solid script from co-producer Charles Silber, we actually get to see new shadings of these characters [who would’ve thought that the sceptical Vera would find himself “getting good at prayer?”]. We get the show’s trademark flashbacks, but with one exception they’re only back a matter of days – but director keeps show’s unique look for them, which gives them more impact than usual. In fact, it’s through the flashbacks that we get to know Pops [Clarence Williams III] – something that both keeps us firmly grounded in the here and now, and shows us something we didn’t know about Jeffries.

There’s even an internal affairs investigation that doesn’t feel gratuitous – and Lt. Stillman learns who has it in for him. And yet, “officer Down” doesn’t feel rushed or cramped. It may be Cold Case’s best episode of the season [and there have been some really good ones].

Final Grade: A-

TELEVISION: Cold Case: Solid Procedural Enters Sixth Season

It’s hard to believe, but Cold Case [CBS, Sundays, 9/8C] has been setting the ghosts of the past to rest for over five years. The sixth season premiere, Glory Days, follows the familiar pattern – after we see the final moments of Michael “Bad Moon” McShane [Aaron Hill] in 1973, a piece of evidence is discovered in the present that suggests he was killed much later than was previously thought. Enter Lilly Rush [Kathryn Morris]  and her team of cold case investigators.

Cold Case, S6

“Bad Moon” was a football star who disappeared the night before the championship game. The investigation puts together a picture of how his last few days were spent by questioning various of his friends, coaches, tutors and such. There’s his teammate, Tom “The Breeze” Bernard [B.J. Britt/Clifton Powell], who lost his scholarship because McShane reported his ill health; Steve Pratt [Sean O’Bryan/James Karen], the alumnus who recruited McShane [and treated him to dinner once a week – and gave him extra spending money for books]; Assistant Coach Walters [Tom Griffin/M.C. Gainey], who was aware that the team’s unofficial, off-campus doctor was giving them steroids, R. Boretski [Justice Leak/James Read], McShane’s tutor, who, McShane threatened to reveal was cheating on class work for members of the football team.

With lots of suspects, there are lots of stories – some of them touching, some funny, and some false. The procedures through which the team solves the case may be familiar but the variations provided each new set of circumstances and suspects allow for enough variety to keep the series feeling fresh – especially when each ep is anchored by music of the period [here it’s by BTO and Steely Dan].

Another ep furnished by CBS, Wednesday’s Women, the third ep of the new season, deals with a group of women who drove from Philadelphia to Mississippi to help run Freedom schools under the cover selling Tupperware®. In it, what was thought to be a hit and run turns out to have far greater implications. The ep’s guest cast includes Olympia Dukakis and Carl Lumbly, among others.

The Cold Case ensemble [Morris, John Finn, Thom Barry, Jeremy Ratchford, Danny Pino and Tracie Thoms] is reliably together and between the regular cast, the guest stars and the consistent writing, the show remains one of the more watchable procedurals around.

Final Grade: B