Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pilot Inspektor Tim: Prime Suspect

The show: Prime Suspect, Thursdays on NBC

The premise in ten words or less? Lady cop.

Any good? Like with CBS's new cop procedural Unforgettable, I don't have overwhelmingly much to say about Prime Suspect, but unlike with Unforgettable, that doesn't necessarily mean I hated it. In fact, I wouldn't even say I disliked it! As far as cop procedurals go it's a reasonably competent pilot with just a little bit more grit and reality to its world than, say, Blue Bloods or Hawaii Five-0, directed by Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights awesomeness and anchored by a strong central performance.

That performance is Maria Bello, taking her first regular TV gig since the 90s as NYPD Detective Jane Timoney. Now, granted, Bello's done her share of crap, but by and large she's a solid film performer who brings a believable edge that allows you to quickly invest in Timoney even before meeting her father and seeing her hostile work environment. The supporting cast has a number of "that guy" actors like Kirk Acevedo, BrĂ­an F. O'Byrne and Joe Nieves whose names may not ring a bell but whose faces will spark recognition in any TV junkie, and they all do generally good work.

It's the script I can't muster much enthusiasm for, for roughly the same reasons I can't for most cop procedurals. The characterization isn't bad and the dialogue doesn't all sound like TV patter, but it's the same crime scene - police station - investigation - questionings - big clue - final action scene arc as every fucking cop show episode ever, and I have zero give-a-shit about that story structure anymore. I've seen it. I've seen it literally hundreds of times, and if I watched more cop shows it'd be literally thousands of times. The filmmaking and acting mine it for all it's worth, but I worry there's not much there there.

Will I watch again? Taken on its own, the pilot isn't a bad little 42-minute cop movie, but it also fails to introduce any kind of major case or serialized story that will be continuing in weeks to come. I can get into cop / crime shows – in the last year I've liked The Chicago Code and absolutely loved Terriers – but for that to happen, there has to be a big hook, at least one major story that kicks off and concludes the season and is woven in and out of more stand-alone episodes throughout its duration. I have no interest in rigidly episodic procedurals (i.e. the majority of cop, doctor, and lawyer shows on TV). So, yes, I'll watch one more Prime Suspect on the strength of Bello and a decently solid pilot. But if that big hook isn't there, I'm out.

Premise: C+

Execution: B

Performances: A-

Potential: B-


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