Saturday, April 16, 2011

King Debuts On Showcase

Stick with Showcase's new cops series King which debuts Sunday night at 9.
It's what TV critics like yours truly like to call "a work in progress".
First and foremost a Canadian police series is no longer a novelty.
It was way back when CBC-TV debuted a short lived series called Sidestreet and a crime series called The Collaborators.
Back in those days any fixation on crime like our American neighbors was considered "unCanadian".
These days there's Rookie Blue, The Line, Flashpoint --you see what I mean?
But King which wobbles a bit during its first few episodes comes with impeccable credentials.
First up there's co-executive producer Bernard Zukerman who last gave us the tremendous series This Is Wonderland.
He also produced a TV movie pilot for a cop series about a younger cop (Peter Outerbridge) paired with an older, street savvy female partner (Alberta Watson): Chasing Cain in 2001.
Sound familiar?
I hung out on that set and thought it had real possibilities.
CBC felt otherwise and declined to place a pick-up order.
King's creative partners include David Barlow who created such Canadian hits as Seeing Things and Nothing Too Good For A Cowbpy and co-executive producer Greg Spottiswood who was a hot TV actor 20 years back with TV movies Looking For Miracles and the Anne Of Green Gables sequel before switching to producing (Shattered).
So far King reminds me of that Global TV series Zoe Busiek: Wild Card which wavered and wobbled a bit before the creators discovered the kind of series they wanted it to be.
Amy Price-Francis is impressive as female police offer Jessica King with two shattered marriages behind her --she is completely dedicated to her work. But now she's married to a younger man, Danny (Gabriel Hogan) and they want to start a family before it's too late.
For the past few years she's been hobbled for her outspokenness, exiled to a back office handling public complaints but when the police chief fears a backlash against his force for mishandling the case of a missing young girl he pole vaults King into a leadership position as headed of a special task force handling difficult cases.
That means the former head Det. Sergeant Derek Spears (nicely played by Alan Van Sprang) must not only accept demotion but the leadership of a frequently headstrong woman.
So far the plots are too ambitious with the producers trying to give a little something for every one.
But Jessica's dilemma as a woman who has focused on career to the detriment of her personal life seems to be the big story line. Balancing that with the violence of the cases she's being give produces some awkward moments when levity just isn't called for.
I've watched three episodes and the relationships are better explored as the story line moves forward. Price-Francis is a strong performer and almost deserves the sole star billing accorded her.
But Van Sprang, who I first interviewed on the set of Earth: Final Conflict, is equally compelling and there's more than a hint that Derek is oddly physically attracted to his new boss. And Danny? He needs more to do that babysit Jessica's charges or he could wander away.
Is this a crime show or a soapy relationships thing.?
It can't be both and be dramatically compelling.
On the plus side there's full use of Toronto locations: let's hope the crew doesn't bump into the crews from Flashpoint or Rookie Blue is all I can say.
King which runs for eight episodes might have a big future based on the veteran talent behind the camera.

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