Monday, September 17, 2007

‘K-Ville’s’ most wanted: Villains

The question of whether or not “K-Ville” can capitalize on the drama of disaster is posed early during the first episode. The new FOX series premiered tonight.

Our two heroes are cops determined to protect and serve in post-Katrina New Orleans, no matter the personal cost.

Anthony Anderson plays Marlin Boulet, a city-loving cop whose partner deserted him two years ago during the hurricane evacuation. His man-against-the-grain storyline is made more sympathetic by his wife’s decision to take their daughter and live in Atlanta, far away from daddy.

Boulet’s partner is the hard-nosed Cincinnati-import Trevor Cobb, played by Cole Hauser. A special operations soldier who’s returned from Afghanistan, he appears drawn to lawlessness, ignited by chaos and destined for trouble. As an outsider, he also possesses a mysterious knowledge of New Orleans’ unmarked streets.

The police captain pairs the two misfits together within minutes of the opening credits, and they head to the French Quarter for their first joint assignment: provide police protection for a charity’s “rebuild New Orleans” concert and fundraiser.

With Boulet drinking at the bar and Cobb eyeing his partner distrustfully – who wants a drunk for a wingman? – the charity’s leader looks out to the faces in the crowd and nobly promises, “We’re going to bring back hope.”

Seconds later, shots are fired into the bar by a drive-by shooter, people scream, and the singer goes down.

The juxtaposition between sympathy-seeking and thrill-making is as emotionally jarring as it is dramatically ludicrous.

Sure, having cops spend the next 45 minutes tracking criminals who shoot innocent bystanders is Heromaking 101. But on TV, who cares about easy setups? We’ve seen “The Shield.” We’ve seen “Law & Order.” We've seen lots of shows that have graduated to better, more compelling hooks.

If “K-Ville” wants to be in it for the long haul, it’s going to have to ditch the cheap contrivances. Audiences know a lowdown set-up when they see it.

However dumb the plot was, the first episode did manage to draw two intriguing characters and their flaws. Perhaps “K-Ville,” as it pushes forward to craft drama from present-day New Orleans, will smarten up and focus on their struggle to build trust (while solving better cases).

The series has acres of potential.

If any present-day city were perfect for a cop drama, The Big Easy is it. Almost all cop dramas, from “Law & Order” to “NYPD Blue” to “The Shield,” have capitalized on public misperceptions of an urban jungle corrupted by criminality on both sides of the law.

Fictionally speaking, it’s not hard for TV viewers to imagine New Orleans in this light (fair or not). Crafting a cop drama from this source material should be relatively simple for writer and executive producer Jonathan Lisco (“NYPD Blue,” “The District”). He knows how to turn headlines into mythology, and he’s never had a better setting.

Anderson and Hauser also have good track records as charismatic supporting men, and it’s good to see them taking control of their own project. Their “K-Ville” characters are bound together by a compelling mix of necessity, hope and mutual distrust. As they start working together case by case, episode by episode, you can just sense the creation of an intriguing cop duo.

What will matter most as this series goes forward is how smartly it plays with the cops-drama convention. A little gunplay will be fine. Car chases, OK. Cars plunging off piers with a buddy inside, go ahead. As long as we’re being entertained for reasonable reasons, shoot ’em up.

What we will need soon, and what was lacking from tonight, are criminals that matter more. All good cop dramas deliver the good stuff on both sides of the law, and this cop drama will only get better if it delivers better bad guys.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

After watching the show, I can only imagine New Orleans city officials freaking out. This show makes me not want to go anywhere near there, much less anyone from outside of Louisiana. This is a disaster for tourism. Makes NO look like the deserted, dangerous shell of a city that, unfortunately, it is.

Patrick

Alexandyr Kent said...

One wonders if "any publicity is good publicity" in this case. It's hard to say whether a single TV series can alter public opinion.

I'd look to shows like "Homicide" and Baltimore or "NYPD Blue" and New York. In Baltimore, residents were pretty proud about that being shot there.

Sure, New Orleans is in disaster recovery mode, but how bad can it be to show two cops busting their butts to clean up crime?

reprsntNOlikeaFlerdelis said...

Dude Fuck You Im from new orleans and this show is nothing like it.In the beggining credits you see all up and down bourbon street. it disgusts me how its nothing like bourbon not ewnough people and very unrealistic. go to new orleans before you judge it of some holly wood tv show bitch

micheal said...

This show makes me not want to go anywhere near there, much less anyone from outside of Louisiana.K-Ville (an abbreviation of Katrinaville) was an American television drama created and executive produced by Jonathan Lisco, centered on policing New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Deran Sarafian directed the pilot.