by Deborah Harter Williams
Sunday March 1 10:00 p.m. – Battle Creek – CBS
Tagline – Not Your Ordinary Cop Show
Mismatched law enforcement partners are nothing new, but this version takes a unique geographical turn and lands in Battle Creek, Michigan. It’s referred to as a “vibrant city of 50,000” but the local cops are scraping the bottom of their budget, which means that the battery in the Taser may or may not work when needed.
Det. Russ Agnew (Dean Winters – Rescue Me and “mayhem guy” from State Farm commercials) is the cynical detective trying to do his job with limited resources and a motley crew: Liza Lapira (Agent Lee from NCIS), Damon Herriman (Justified), Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar), Edward Fordham(Grapevine) and Aubrey Dollar (ingénue office manager). British actress Janet McTeer is alternately anxious and authoritative as Commander Guziewicz.
To the rescue, with strings attached, comes the FBI in the person of Milt Chamberlain (Josh Duhamel) well-coifed and well-equipped with big screen monitor, mass spectrometer and all the extras, including crime scene booties. He’s setting up a new field office, needs to prove himself and needs a partner. Everyone volunteers except Russ, so that’s of course whom he picks.
Created by Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and David Shore (House),
Expect: Characters, Humor
Related viewing: If you’re a fan of odd couples, check out the newest incarnation of Neil Simon’s classic. CBS airs the new Odd Couple starting February 19. Matthew Perry (Friends, Go On) is Oscar (the sloppy one) and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911) is Felix.
Monday, March 4 8:00 p.m. – CSI: Cyber – CBS
Tagline – Crimes that start in the mind live online and play out in the real world.
“I work the Dark Net,” explains Patricia Arquette (Medium) as FBI Special Agent Avery Ryan, Ph.D. – head of the Cyber Crime Division, Quantico, Virginia. Introduced in an episode of CSI, the show follows technology to a whole new level of darkness. Get ready to hear phrases like “Computer animated avatar chatbot” and psycho-sadist. The team solves internet-related murders, cyber-theft, hacking, sex offences and blackmail.
Arquette’s character is not easily bullied by either an FBI pilot or a psycho with a knife. Her psychology background makes her “a human lie detector” and she can also jam up a computer algorithm with a few keystrokes. The challenge is how to balance onscreen pyrotechnics with enough real life action. One can only watch the face recognition software try to find a match for so long.
Look forward to a crew of familiar actors. The assistant director is Peter MacNicol (N3mbers, Ghostbusters, Ally MacBeal) and the senior special agent is James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek, Don’t Trust the B in appt. 23). Charley Koontz (Fat Neil on Community) plays a tech specialist, Shad Moss (aka rapper Bow Wow) is a hacker, Hayley Kiyoko (Velma in Scooby Doo TV films) is the social media expert and Luke Perry(Beverly Hills 90210) appears as a former agent.
The CSI team of executive producers – Carol Mendelssohn, Anthony E. Zuiker and Ann Donahue; this new show is inspired by producer Mary Aiken’s cyber-psychologist work for the European Crime Center of Europol.
A unique production design. Each previous CSI spin-off has had its own look, from gritty New York to sun-drenched Miami. I’m eager to see how they create the world of CSI-Cyber.
Theme music from The Who: “I Can See for Miles.”
Related viewing: The Good Wife has dealt with the legal side of cyber issues for several seasons, including Bit Coin, the Silk Road and the underpaying/overworking of game programmers.
Thursday, March 5 10:00 p.m. – American Crime – ABC
Tagline: At a time when nothing is black and white, one crime can infect so many lives.
The story begins with murder in Modesto, California. Matt Skokie, war vet, is dead and wife Gwen is in a coma. Four suspects are arrested: A teen-ager in over his head in spite of a vigilant father (Benito Martinez – The Shield, House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy). A second young man who with a history of bad choices and two drug addicts. The suspects all fit a profile, but we learn that their situations are far more complicated.
Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman, play divorced parents who come back together to bury their son. They uncover old wounds and suffer new ones as they search for justice, and find that their son may not have been an innocent victim.
The story is not a standard procedural. “It’s not about the police. It’s not about the prosecutors. It’s really about the family,” creator John Ridley says. The challenge is whether the audience will sign on for all 11 weeks of what seems destined to be misery for all the characters.
Creator Ridley is the Oscar-winning writer of Twelve Years a Slave. His TV experience includes writing and producing for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Third Watch.
Big screen drama, strong acting and challenges to assumptions about race, class, faith, family and gender.
Related viewing: Fresh Off the Boat (ABC, Tuesdays) – a take on race from the comic side. Based on the childhood of New York restaurateur Eddie Huang. The first major network sitcom with an Asian cast since 1995.
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