…And now for news about a show that sucks and we hate:
In what is not a surprise, THR has confirmed that Brittany Snow and Aml Ameen (two of the four main cast members) have left the David E. Kelley extension of Boston Legal, Harry’s Law, under what is described as “amicable” circumstances.
…producers looked at the stories and roles and decided they weren’t going to be expanded and instead opted to give the duo the opportunity to pursue other projects.
Yeah… mmm… OK…
What this means in Hollywood-speak is that in typical David E. Kelley fashion, the stale writing that existed on the show to begin with has gotten even worse, the well has run completely dry and they can’t develop their bland, cookie-cutter, clichéd characters beyond one season nor can they write them into storylines. We understand how developing characters and writing good stories can be difficult when every show you create is used for nothing more than a soapbox for a political agenda.
A note to NBC and the other networks: STOP throwing Kelley a bone. He’s overrated and audiences have grown tired of him (and Bruckheimer is nipping right at his heels in that department as well). Time to open the door for new blood and ditch these dinosaurs.
THE CHICAGO CODE, the compelling new police drama from critically acclaimed creator Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), follows the Windy City’s most powerful and respected cops as they navigate the city’s underbelly to fight crime and expose corruption within Chicago’s notorious political machine.
Set and shot on location in Chicago, THE CHICAGO CODE is a fast-paced series centered on JAREK WYSOCKI (Jason Clarke), a local legend and a larger-than-life veteran of the Chicago Police Department who wields considerable power thanks to his relationship with TERESA COLVIN (Jennifer Beals), his ex-partner and the city’s first female superintendent, now in charge of a 10,000-member police force. While Teresa diplomatically governs amidst the complicated landscape of Chicago politics, Jarek works the streets on a crusade to clean up corruption and crime and avenge his brother’s murder. Along the way, they will stop at nothing to bring down their powerful adversaries, including ALDERMAN RONIN GIBBONS (Delroy Lindo), a building-magnate-turned-politician who has ruled his ward with a velvet glove for over two decades.
Joining Jarek on the street is CALEB EVERS (Matt Lauria), an eager young detective trying desperately to prove himself. Also in Jarek’s charge is his niece, VONDA WYSOCKI (Devin Kelley), a rookie beat cop whose father – Jarek’s brother – was killed in the line of duty when she was young. Jarek keeps close tabs on her and is less than thrilled with the risk-taking ways of her cocky hotshot partner, ISAAC JOINER (Todd Williams). Also in the mix is low-life LIAM HENNESSEY (Billy Lush), an Irish thug who blends in with the gritty world of local crime. – FOX
8 out of 10
So here we are asking ourselves again, why, oh why, do the best scripted dramas always wind up on FOX? They are only going to canceled when FOX inevitably pisses their pants after a couple of episodes. The Chicago Code is eerily similar to Lone Starin that it’s a serialized, well-written, well-casted and well-acted dramatic series… that probably won’t last a single season because FOX has no patience for shows like this. For the sake of this review, though, let’s pretend that FOX won’t cancel it before the end of the first season.
The Chicago Code is everything it claims to be and perhaps a bit more. Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) is brilliantly cast as the down-to-earth, old-school detective who is used to thinking unconventionally and using unorthodox methods in order to effectively do his job. Beals, is his former partner and newly appointed Police Superintendant who has recruited him to help her to clean up the corruption in Chicago. If you think you’ve seen this before, you have. This is almost the exact same scenario as in Brian De Palma’s 1987 classic The Untouchables when Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) recruits Jim Malone (Sean Connery) to help him take down the corrupt politicians, corrupt police department and Al Capone.
Watch this scene to understand The Chicago Code:
… and THAT’S The Chicago Code. There is no sugar-coating it. This is a modern-day telling of a classic story of crime and corruption and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit) is not even being subtle with his homage to The Untouchables. Good for him because he’s a brilliant writer and he’s smart enough to know that if you are going to use someone else’s source material for inspiration, use only the good stuff. What made HBO’s Deadwood so good was the fact that it was Shakespeare set in the Old West. It’s no different with any good drama and The Chicago Code excels in exploiting its predecessor.
Ryan’s no slouch, either, when it comes to stories about corruption having been the creator of F/X’s hit The Shield which lasted for six seasons which revolved around a group of corrupt detectives in the L.A.P.D. And like The Shield, The Chicago Code does something that we absolutely love and we praised it before in our review of A & E’s The Glades; it uses the city itself as not just a backdrop, but as a living, breathing character. One gets the feeling that they know Chicago as well as the residents do by watching The Chicago Code and that is a key factor that makes the show compelling and worth investing in for audiences. It’s also beautifully shot and is a visual pleasure to enjoy in high-definition. Unfortunately, though, as previously noted, we don’t think the show has much of a chance at survival.
To be fair to FOX, and as much as we rip on them, there is a big problem with The Chicago Code that has nothing to do with bad management at FOX: it’s a serial. Serialized television has no place in major network schedules any more. It just doesn’t play with this generation of viewers who are inundated with 300 plus channels of cable television, the Internet, and reality television. This generation of television viewers expects everything to be immediate with their entertainment and they simply have no patience for a story that doesn’t effectively conclude itself at the end of the hour. This isn’t a criticism, this is just a fact and if you’re wondering when the end of serialized drama on network television officially occurred, it was May 24, 2010, which is the day of the series finale of 24 and the day after the series finale of Lost. It’s getting more and more difficult to put any effort in writing reviews for serialized drama on network television because we are kind of at the “what’s the point?” stage as we expect every serialized drama on network television to be canceled no later than the end of its first season.
Now, that being said, we believe that FOX has made the same mistake with this show that they did with Lone Star and that is airing it on FOX instead of F/X. F/X has been consistently able to support to serialized dramas and The Chicago Code would be a perfect fit there.
Of course, we certainly hope that we are dead-wrong about the lifespan of The Chicago Code on FOX but the numbers were only OK for the premiere (2.4 rating for 18-49) and the tendency for serialized shows is to lose audience after the premiere, not pick them up. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed but we aren’t very optimistic about any long-term success for this show.
Emmy Award-winning writer/producer David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal”) weaves his rich storytelling into a new legal dramedy starring Academy Award winner Kathy Bates in the title role – about how people can embrace the unexpected and other curveballs that life can throw at them.
Harriet “Harry” Korn (Kathy Bates, “Misery,” “About Schmidt”) doesn’t believe things happen for a reason, but she discovers that they sometimes do. A curmudgeonly ex-patent lawyer, Harry is abruptly fired from her blue chip law firm, forcing her to search for a fresh start. She finds it when her world unexpectedly collides, literally, with Malcolm Davies (Aml Ameen, “Kidulthood”), a kind-hearted college student who desperately needs Harry’s help with his pending court case, and he subsequently goes to work for her.
Harry soon finds her balance as well as new offices in an abandoned shoe store just as legal hotshot Adam Branch (Nate Corddry, “The United States of Tara,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) accidentally hits her while driving. Inspired by Harry’s no-nonsense understanding of the law, Adam decides to take leave of his shiny corporate firm to go and work with her. Harry, Adam and Malcolm – unlikely but kindred spirits – along with the help of Harry’s shoe-savant assistant, Jenna (Brittany Snow, “Hairspray,” “American Dreams”), are now ready for whatever walks in through the doors of their unique establishment – Harriet’s Law and Fine Shoes. – NBC
4 out of 10
Now, you would figure with the cleverly proposed premise and Kathy Bates and David E. Kelley on the marquis, Harry’s Law should be one of the most refreshing new shows of the spring. I mean, how could they screw this up, right? The answer is simple and really should have been expected: David E. Kelley.
We really, really wanted to like Harry’s Law and it almost sucked us in… until it morphed into Boston Legal 30 minutes into it. Please don’t mistake this, it’s not kind-of like Boston Legal because it’s a David E. Kelley show, it’s the exact same frakking show except that this time Kelley figured that it was probably not a good idea to use a TV show as a pulpit for left-wing proselytizing and right-wing bashing when the evangelists are a bunch of uber-wealthy, Boston elitists.
Instead, we now have Harriet Korn (Bates) a well-respected Cincinnati patent attorney who decides that she’s bored of patent-law and goes on a mission of self-discovery that eventually puts her into a crime infested neighborhood that seems awfully clean and in fact it seems a lot like a Universal back lot. Here she will now practice criminal law (which she has absolutely no experience in) and fight for the poor, downtrodden, misunderstood and those generally abused by the system.
Like Boston Legal before it, you have to suspend your disbelief with the speed of the legal process and the absurdity of the courtroom antics and you also have to suspend your disbelief that a 20 year-plus veteran patent attorney can now be taken seriously as a criminal defense attorney.
No, what kills this show and why it went from a “7” in our book to a “4” from the first half hour to the second is that it suffers from the exact same problems that Boston Legal did when it ended. Kelley seems obsessed with preaching to the audience his brand of politics, not understanding that by doing so, he’s alienating at least half of his audience. Conservatives sure as hell don’t want to hear it and Independents don’t want to hear it either and it’s why Boston Legal only got five seasons whereas its predecessor, The Practice got eight seasons. We left it halfway through season four and there’s only been one other show that we’ve ever committed to that we left before its series run was over (Heroes).
The Practice, although it definitely had its share of issue-oriented shows, was never preachy. It didn’t need to be. The drama was compelling and thought-provoking in and of itself on a weekly basis without the need for anyone to tell the audience how to think politically. What we can’t figure out is what happened with Kelley. Is it just an issue of hating the Bush Administration so much that he decided that all of his projects would now be propaganda outlets? We could care less either way what anyone’s personal politics are but when it comes to scripted drama on television, no one wants to be lectured to. Kelley should know this by now and NBC should have figured it out after the Jimmy Smits legal disaster-of-a-show Outlaw.
The only reason we’re not giving this show lower than a “4” is because there is hope for it and the only thing it needs to be enjoyable is to get rid of the political crap. The performances are solid and the characters are generally likable. Will they drop the political crap? It’s doubtful that they will because Kelley has become an absolute egomaniac with his projects and even if they did dump the politics, it will be too late because we expect audiences to abandon it long before that. We believe Kelley is about to learn a valuable lesson about what you can experiment with and what you can’t when a show hasn’t built an established audience and we expect Harry’s Law to not be renewed for a second season in May for Fall 2011.
Welcome to the TV-Tastic First Annual Fall TV Preview. This is the first of what we hope to be many television season previews. In January we’ll be doing a Mid-Season Replacement Preview and in Summer 2011, we’ll be doing a preview of the cable offerings and random shows that FOX just throws out there June through August to fill up airtime that no one seems to care about (see: The Good Guys). This is a seven part series and today we are covering Monday night television.
We will not be including a preview of every single show that’s in the Fall lineup. We’re only previewing the stuff we care about and of course the new offerings on network and cable. Our rating scale for this will be based on whether we think you should waste your time with it or not and we’ll tell you why. No numbers on this just, simple recommendations like “you have to see this” or “pass on this” or “I think I just puked in my mouth a little bit.” Vic’s been very busy so I’m going solo on this for right now but he will be adding his two-cents later and I’ll update the blog and the subscribers accordingly.
So, without further ado, let the games begin, and by the way, this is one of the best Fall Lineups in years and it mostly is because of NBC (which is a phrase I never thought I would utter).
Shawn: I love House, it’s a “can’t-miss.” You know it and I know it. How many shows can they change the night and timeslot every two weeks and it’s still be successful? There is one reason and one reason only to watch House, and that’s House, himself. I hate medical dramas as they’re all the same tripe. House could be a show set on submarine or in a cannery (or a nunnery) and it would still be great.
NBC: Chuck – September 20, 2010
Shawn: I unfortunately missed all of season 2 and 3 because of scheduling issues but I love this show and I’m glad it got a fourth season. It’s just a fun show that’s got something for everyone. Humor, action, romance and of course, Adam Baldwin. I dare say, what more do you need? I’ll be catching up with Seasons 2 & 3 and saving season 4 for later.
FOX: Lone Star– September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
Shawn: I’ve already seen the pilot and it is definitely worth watching. See my full review with trailer here. Upon further review my biggest concern for it is it is in the same time-slot as this:
NBC: The Event – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
The Event is an emotional, high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, “The Class”), an everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his would-be fiancée Leila (Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history.
Sean’s quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including newly elected U.S. President Elias Martinez (Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”); Sophia Maguire (Emmy Award nominee Laura Innes, “ER”), who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Leila’s shadowy father (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”). Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind. – NBC
Shawn: This is by far the most anticipated show of the new year and for good reason. It’s a spy/action/political thriller à la 24 shown from multiple perspectives with a Lost-type/FlashForward-type mystery to it. The cast is amazing and the effects look killer. This is one of those moral imperative shows. You must watch this. I’d comment more on it but the trailer confused the crap out of me and I still haven’t processed all of it.
CBS: Mike & Molly – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
A couple finds love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting in this multicamera comedy from Chuck Lorre, the force behind Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.
Shawn: Did Kevin James get taller, fatter and less articulate? As a rule, I’m skeptical of sitcoms to begin with because for the most part they are unoriginal and they all recycle the same stupid jokes decade after decade. Even the more original and funny comedies like The Office eventually wind up being copied (see: Parks & Recreation) and eventually run out of steam… waitaminute… The Office was a copy as well. Anyway, the point being is that Mike & Molly is the reason that I hate sitcoms. This is just embarrassing. Seriously who does this simple-minded crap appeal to? What I find humorous is that they brag how this show is from the producers of Two and a Half Men. Hey… newsflash: despite how many people watch it, Two and a Half Men is complete crap as well. I would definitely pass on this.
CBS: Hawaii Five-O – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
When Steve McGarrett’s father is murdered, he decided to return home to Oahu in order to catch the killer. The governor offers him the opportunity to run a new task force where he is able to call the shots. Detective Steve McGarrett brings together his own team, beginning with Chin Ho Kelly; an ex-Honolulu Police Detective and former protégé of McGarrett’s father. Kelly has been assigned to a federal security patrol after being suspected of corruption. Detective Danny “Danno” Williams is a New Jersey cop who recently moved to the island and is raising his 8-year-old daughter. Kono Kalakaua is Kelly’s cousin and a rookie officer, fresh from the academy. McGarrett’s team is giving full backing from the governor and plays only by their own rules. – CBS
Shawn: Way to go CBS for making this show sound like every other dry, formulaic cop show. Thank God for trailers, eh? I have to say, I was just going to recommend the pilot and only the pilot simply for the sake of novelty (and the great cast). Watch it, know it’s probably going to be crap-tastic and forget about it. Then I saw the trailer below. This isn’t Hawaii Five-O, this is friggin’ Alias in Hawaii with cops and it looks great! Back to that great cast, you’ve got Alex O’Loughlin (The Shield) as McGarrett, Scott Caan (Boiler Room and the Ocean’s Eleven films) as “Danno,” Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, 24) and the smoking hot Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) as Kono Kalakaua. This one of the best casts of any show this season and I’m really glad to see Kim in a more prominent lead-role where he actually speaks his native language for a change… which of course is Eastern Pennsylvania English. Heck, he didn’t even have to move for this show considering his last gig was on Lost for six seasons which is was of course, also filmed in Hawaii. And, by the way, I am well aware that for a cop show the amount of action looks ridiculous. That’s part of the reason why it appeals to me so much. I mean, crap, if you’re going to go camp, go all the way… and we’d better see Wo Fat, too or I’m writing a letter. This is another definite must-watch show.
NBC: Chase – September 20, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
From Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) and executive producer Jennifer Johnson (“Cold Case,” “Reunion,” “Lost”), “Chase” is a lightning-fast drama that drops viewers smack into the middle of a game of cat-and-mouse as a team of U.S. Marshals hunts down America’s most dangerous fugitives.
Kelli Giddish (“Past Life”) stars as U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, a cowboy boot-wearing deputy whose sharp mind and unique Texas upbringing help her track down violent criminals on the run. Starring as the members of Frost’s elite team are Cole Hauser (“K-Ville”) as Jimmy Godfrey, an East Texas kid who never grew up and is a true American cowboy; Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”) who plays Marco Martinez, a good intelligence guy who loves to talk; and Rose Rollins (“The L Word”), who portrays Daisy Ogbaa, a weapons/tactical specialist and a woman of few words. Rounding out the cast is Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives”), who stars as Luke Watson, the fresh-faced newcomer whose Washington, D.C. upbringing did little to prepare him for the Lone Star State. – NBC
Shawn: Although, seemingly formulaic and reeking suspiciously of U.S. Marshals (I was waiting for Tommy Lee Jones to pop out and start barking orders about finding Richard Kimball in the trailer), the high-energy and the strong cast of Chase makes it certainly worthy of consideration. I’m not jumping out of my pants about it yet but it is a Jerry Bruckheimer production and that definitely makes it worth watching for at least the first three or four episodes. “Cautiously optimistic” is the best way to describe my enthusiasm for Chase.