Anyone who has seen Lynda LaPlante’s Prime Suspect might wonder how NBC, an American broadcast network, could possibly pull off an adaptation where there could be no nudity, no cussing and considerably less all-around nastiness. To them , I need only saw two things: Homicide: Life on the Streets, and Peter Berg [Friday Night Lights – the movie and the TV series].
The Prime Suspect [NBC, Thursdays, 10/9C] trailer and other videos from nbc.com show a willingness to embrace the tone and intelligence of the original and Maria Bello definitely fits the role of Jane Timoney. Check out five more videos after the jump.
When I first heard that Criminal Minds was getting a spin-off, I was appalled. I remain baffled that a series that is so misogynistic could be so popular. If the screener for Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior [CBS, Wednesdays, 10/9C] is any indication, it is a better show – at least in terms of misogyny, or the lack of same.
Half-a-dozen years, or so, before CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered, a little Welsh series called A Mind to Kill presented us with Detective Inspector Noah Bain [Philip Madoc], a Welsh cop who headed a team that used a combination of cutting edge forensics technology and his own unique thought processes and instincts to solve murders.
Yesterday, Jeff Goldblum took a half-hour out of his busy shooting day to talk with a number of bloggers/journalists about his role as Detective Zach Nichols on the new season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent [USA, Sundays, 9/8C]. Goldblum, it turns out, is as intelligent and intuitive as his character.
Also taking part in the Q&Q session were: Jamie Ruby [Media Blvd], Jamie Steinberg [Starry Constellation], Julie Kissane [popculturemadness.com], Christine Nyholm [Examiner], Joshua Fulghum [totallyher.com], Troy Rogers [thedeadbolt.com], and Zach Oat [televisionwithoutpity.com].
When Teeter, a talented musician, is found murdered after a night out with his friends [to take in a spelling bee!] – in a neighborhood composed of several different ethnicities, Captain Danny Ross [Eric Bogosian] assigns Detective Megan Wheeler [Julianne Nichols] to the case, along with her new partner, Detective Zach Nichols [Jeff Goldblum]. As their investigation begins, Rafe, another musician who lived in the same warehouse sized loft as Teeter falls down the building’s elevator shaft. Rock Star, this week’s episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent [USA, 9/8C] introduces Goldblum’s Detective Nichols in a way that allows Goldblum to make an indelible first impression – on his new partner, and on the show’s audience.
Nichols arrives at his first crime scene [Teeter] marvelling about the variety of fine ethnic foods he was able to find on his way to work. Wheeler is not amused, but when she questions Ross about him, Ross informs her that, before he took a seven-year leave, he was, “…amazing. Brilliant cop. Very perceptive.” And notes that both Nichol’ parents were shrinks. Where did he go for those seven years? “He sent me a postcard from Cleveland, “says Ross.
Before long though, Nichols wins Wheeler over with his keen eye for detail and a knowledge of people that allows him to reassure a possible suspect that he’s not one by playing a cool jazz improvisation on the late Teeter’s keyboard. He also knows how to spin his questions when dealing with other suspects – like the musicians’ landlord, Philip, whose band played the third-longest set at Woodstock.
Rock Star showcases Goldblum’s character, but allows Nicholson and Bogosian plenty of room to perform as well – though it’s likely that Goldblum’s Nichols will assume the lead role on future investigations. The character may remind of Goldblum’s last series, the brilliant – of too hip for the room – Raines, though minus that character’s imagined conversations with the victims whose murders he was trying to solve. Nichols has that same intensity and ability to learn about people without actually appearing to be doing anything.
Where Vincent D’Onofrio’s Detective Goren is a riff on Sherlock Holmes, Goldblum’s Nichols might be analogous to Freud – Goren is a facts guy, while Nichols is all about motive. The one thing they have in common is that no detail escapes them. They differ in their method of using those details. I expect that Detective Wheeler’s primary concern, in future eps, will be grounding Nichols in much the same way that Detective Eames keeps Goren grounded – and like the Watson of Conan Doyle’s original stories, provide a certain toughness and resourcefulness that will keep Nichols on track.
If Rock star is any indication, Law & Order may be about to hit a creative peak. Not bad for a show in its eighth season!
When Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s eighth season premieres on Sunday [USA, 9/8C], Detectives Goren [Vincent D’Onofrio] and Eames [Kathryn Erbe] tackle one of their strangest cases yet.
It begins with a press conference for Councilman Neil Hayes-Fitzpatrick about allegations of fiscal impropriety and moves into the murder of a drug addict/dealer, whose body winds up atop his girlfriend –and that’s how the police find them. The girl, Stacy, turns out to be the stepdaughter of Neil Hayes-Fitzpatrick [Scott Caan], who is running for mayor. His mother [Kathy Baker] is his campaign manager. Detective Goren notices something odd about the way Stacy behaves around her stepfather, and the episode builds from there to an unexpected conclusion.
As is usual in an L&O:CI episode that features Goren and Eames, it’s Goren’s powers of observation and deductive reasoning that put all the pieces together. Also as usual, it’s Eames whose thoughts seem to inspire Goren – in much the same way that Watson frequently inspired Holmes [forget the Basil Rathbone Holmes movies – in the Conan Doyle stories, Watson was smart, tough and resourceful].
Like the other Law & Order shows, Criminal Intent works best when the storytelling is intelligently developed, and that’s certainly true here. The partnership of Goren and Eames is back on pitch after the weirdness of last season, and they are definitely clicking on all cylinders. There’s even a cameo by Detective Munch [Richard Belzer] that’s on point and provides an unexpected chuckle.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the new guy on the block, Detective Zach Nichols [Jeff Goldblum].
When Law & Order: Criminal Intent returns [USA, Sunday, 9/8C], Detectives Goren [Vincent D’Onofrio] and Eames [Kathryn Erbe] will be splitting episodes with Detective Meagan Wheeler [Julianne Nicholson] and new guy, Detective Zach Nichols [Jeff Goldblum]. Wednesday afternoon, there was a Q&A session with D’Onofrio and Erbe, who talked about the eighth season. Taking part were Jamie Steinberg [Starry Constellation], Troy Rogers [thedeadbolt.com], Jamie Ruby [Media Boulevard], Zach Oat [televisionwithoutpity.com], Ashley Aikens [pitching a query for me. Doctor’s appointment. Don’t ask…], Kristyn Clarke [popculturemadness.com], Jay Jacobs [popentertainment.com], Christine Nyholm [examiner.com], Ian Dawson [stuffwelike.com], Amy Steele [Entertainment Realm], Christine Zimmer [All Things Law & Order], and Loring Judge [Reel Blog].
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.
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].
The winter premiere of The Closer [Mondays, TNT, 9/8C] is following a pretty hard act – it’s mid-season cliffhanger, and so we both learn the fate of Detective Sanchez [Raymond Cruz] and witness Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson’s [Kyra Sedgwick] reaction to Fritz’s marriage ultimatum. Even better, there’s an apparent case of suicide that coroner Dr. Morales [Jonathan Del Arco] won’t sign off on – and he’s extorting Deputy Chief Johnson into taking the case [or he’ll take it to another division, making her team look like idiots!].
The deceased is a recovering drug addict and con man who seems to have gone straight – though that doesn’t jive with the recollection of his ex-wife which is, in turns at odds with the experience [or at least testimony] of his pastor [church in a slating rink!] and cancer-suffering girlfriend. Add in the after effects of the cliff-hanger’s two-pronged dilemma – and the presence of Brenda’s parents [Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen], who are visiting for a few days before setting out on a Hawaiian cruise – and you’ve got all the ingredients for a truly odd mix of confusion, misdirection and pathos. The episode, Good Faith, is also notable for actually having scenes that do not require the presence of DC Strong.
Upcoming episodes feature a body found in the trunk of a car, and a suspected rapist/murderer whose lawyer has a track record of successfully defending sex offenders.
As usual, The Closer is written well enough to give us a few moments pause over each ep’s mystery, but it remains most notable for giving us a strong lead character that continues to grow as a person – and as a high-ranking member of the Los Angeles Police Department. Though this is Sedgwick’s show, there are moments for several members of her team as well as J.K. Simmons’ Assistant Chief Pope [who gets some really good stuff in the premiere].
All in all, The Closer hasn’t yet lost a step. It remains one of the best [and most watched] programs on cable television.
There was an overwhelming amount of great TV, this year [and, as you’ll see not too much later, an almost equally overwhelming amount of excessively bad TV]. Given the truly amazing amount of quality to be found between the networks and the various cable outlets, I’ve decided to list my favorite fifteen shows of the year.