Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fall 2007 TV: K-Ville

K-Ville (Fox)

During my Unfair Previews, I said that K-Ville was one of the few Fall shows that I thought held some promise. It's a buddy cop show, sure, but one set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and anchored by Anthony Anderson, who was so amazing on The Shield. I imagined the setting, the star, and Fox's track record of putting interesting spins on well-worn genres would elevate K-Ville above its "buddy cop" base.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. K-Ville doesn't even seem to aspire to be more than a buddy cop show, and a less-than-mediocre one at that. Sure, it's filmed on location in a still-devastated New Orleans, but rather than enhancing the drama or generating empathy and understanding for the plight of the locals, the setting seems tawdry and exploitative instead. "Gee, look at what a bummer it is to be here," is about all the show has to say about the situation, in between unimaginatively staged gun battles and car chases.

Anderson can't carry the show by himself, not that he'd have all that much to carry. While his partner, Cole Hauser, nearly matches Anderson's intensity, their head-butting/grudging respect routine is tired and lazy. (Though the twist on Hauser's character -- he's a prison escapee whose records were destroyed by Katrina -- is one I haven't seen before, I have to admit.) The rest of the supporting cast barely registers.

And the villainous plot in the debut episode, a convoluted revenge scheme involving buying up land from those who fled Katrina, out of spite for them, is simply preposterous. As is the bad guys' methods of intimidation: they stick a fire hose through Anderson's second story window and flood his house, thus terrifying his daughter, who, traumatized by Katrina, "cries whenever it rains." Forget the wild coincidence that the flooding is somehow the scariest possible thing the bad guys could've done to Anderson's daughter. I'm still trying to figure out how it's even possible to get a heavy fire hose attached to a hydrant up to a second story window while people are inside the house without anybody noticing.

I'm not against buddy cop shows in theory. In fact, I'd welcome a good one, since most cop shows these days are C.S.I.-type procedurals (and K-Ville does get off a good zinger directed at such shows). Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather see an exciting gun fight over a dramatic DNA examination. But the action scenes in K-Ville are as uninspired as the plot and characters. Coupled with the fact that shootings and car crashes played for entertainment in a city that already looks like a war zone is vaguely unseemly, if not just plain wrong.

If it felt like the crimes depicted were genuine attempts to examine the current lawlessness of the city, rather than absurd, writerly flights of fantasy, or if it felt like the main characters' emotions truly tapped into the deep loss and betrayal that was Katrina, rather than mostly scraping together character sketches from Katrina news footage and combining them with buddy cop prototypes... then I might be able to get behind this show. As it is, it's very disappointing. I might give it one more chance, just because Anderson is still a very charismatic presence, but I can't see it developing into anything worthwhile.

Rating: 4 out of 10

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