Tuned In

Test Pilot: K-Ville

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Test Pilot is a semiregular feature this summer sharing my first impressions of the pilots for next fall’s shows. These aren’t reviews, since these pilots may be rewritten, recast and reshot before airing, and end up much better or worse. But, premature opinions are why God invented the Internet, so let’s get on with…

The Show: K-Ville, Fox

The Premise: Anthony Anderson (The Shield) is New Orleans cop Marlin Boulet, from the flood-devastated Ninth Ward, who doggedly decided to stay in the city after Katrina (hence the K). Two years later, he’s trying to keep order in a decimated city with a decimated police force, and trying to persuade his wife–who’s lit off to Atlanta with their young daughter–to return and stick things out. He finds himself paired with a new partner (Cole Hauser), whose origins and motives Boulet is suspicious of.

First Impressions: An intriguing, ambitious but sometimes weirdly jarring mix of realistic drama and police procedural. The pilot is half about the law-enforcement, personal and social aftereffects of Katrina, and the racial overtones of the reconstruction, or lack thereof. (There are also a few chilling flashbacks to the floods, and how some people survived and didn’t.) That part looks like a fascinating show. The other half, though, is a more or less standard cop procedural, which seems all the more rushed and unconvincing for being compressed. In the first episode, Boulet solves–through little more than a car chase and computer search–a murder and massive real-estate conspiracy that could have, and maybe should have, been a running plot for the whole season. I’m sure this is the fallout of last fall season–there had to be several “NO MORE SERIALS!” memos written after The Nine, Kidnapped and Vanished–but I wonder if this show might have better been done on FX, where that wouldn’t have been an issue. As it is, it’s like The Wire, if The Wire solved a case in 20 minutes each episode. (Which is to say, not The Wire.)

But Will I Watch Again? Probably–to see if the good cop drama beats the bad cop drama.