Two new shows–one awful, one not so much. This is me, taking in the summer pilots so you don’t have to.
First up, Rizzoli & Isles.
She’s a tough homicide detective with a raspy voice, an overbearing mother and a history as the target of a serial killer. She’s Detective Jane Rizzoli.
She’s a medical examiner who always wears designer clothes even at a crime scene and who keeps a giant turtle as a pet. She’s Dr. Maura Isles.
Jane? Maura? Are you kidding me? These are the worst names for the leads in a detective show ever. I’ll go further and say that Rizzoli & Isles is the worst name for a buddy cop show since Heat Vision & Jack. Terrible, terrible names. The kinds of names that sound like they were written for a book. Oh, wait a second… turns out Rizzoli first appeared in Tess Gerritsen‘s book The Surgeon while Isles first appeared in the sequel The Apprentice.
The pilot episode of Rizzoli & Isles is based on both The Surgeon and The Apprentice. That’s pretty crazy, huh? Two whole books just to make one episode of TV. But that’s what they do with a pilot these days. They cram in as much as possible in order to sell the show to the TV execs who will decide whether to order any more and to the advertising execs who will decide whether it’s a viable vehicle for their ads.
The pilot episode of Rizzoli & Isles crams it all in. There’s a lot of blood from several slit throats. There’s semen, blacklit in case you missed it. There’s post mortem rape (mercifully off-screen). There’s a Hannibal Lecter-lite, serial killer nemesis. There’s a disgruntled former partner. There’s a handsome but mysterious FBI agent. There’s laughter. There’s tears. And, because we’re on cable, there’s a couple of “bullshits” and Angie Harmon says “tits”. Everything you want in a new show except intelligence, wit and a single reason to watch episode two.
Rizzoli & Isles is a show with two female leads. Perhaps this something to be applauded? It has been cynically programmed to follow Kyra Sedgewick’s excellent show The Closer. Perhaps women want to watch shows like this. Shows with strong female leads. Nah, I’m not buying it. Unlike The Closer, which perfectly balances the female lead’s vulnerability and a superb command of her job, Rizzoli & Isles wants to portray even powerful women as victims of violent and sadistic men.
In this first episode the men are killed quickly while the women are raped before and after death. Flashbacks throughout the episode show us Rizzoli’s first encounter with her nemesis where she was brutalized and about to be mutilated before her male partner showed up and saved her.
This is a show created by women, written by women and starring women, but it does not like women and I fear that future episodes will continue to focus on unpleasant things done to young and attractive female victims. I already have a sense of Rizzoli and Isles‘s MO. Their sadistic spree is just getting started.
Just to make sure my radar wasn’t totally off-track I went to look at the plots for Gerritsen’s later Rizzoli & Isles books (which admittedly may not be reflected in future TV episodes). The next one has murdered young nuns. Number four features a serial killer offing pregnant women and on and on. I think we’re done here.
If you still want to see Angie Harmon saying “tits”, here’s the clip.
The second new show I saw this week was a little more promising, although, perhaps, only by comparison. The Glades features a Chicago cop relocated to Florida because no one in Chicago will work with him anymore. So far, so Axel Foley.
Jim Longworth has a much better TV cop name. Much better than bloody Maura. Jim is a great cop. You know how you know he’s a great cop? Because he keeps telling you he’s a great cop. Jim is smart and not just street-smart or book-smart. He’s put-down-everyone-else-for-being-dumb-smart. That’s how smart Jim is. Whoever you are, whatever you do, he’ll find a way to be condescending and smug.
It’s actually kind of an original take on the lone cop motif. Jim’s kind of a dick.
Still, that aside, there’s something going on here. Jim asks a lot of questions. It’s a nice touch. Feels like it could be real police work. Asking questions. Listening to the answers.
Like Rizzoli & Isles, the pilot episode of The Glades revolves around the murder and mutilation of a woman. But here the murder is a whole lot less gleefully presented. The theme here is police work, not women in peril.
The Glades is not terrible, if you don’t mind the hero being kind of a dick. I’m not mad keen on seeing another episode, but I may chance it just to see if Jim Longworth can keep it up and not get his face smashed in.
If you think you can handle one minute twenty of our hero telling everybody how smart he is and how dumb they are, here are the highlights. CAUTION: Contains spoilers.