Fall TV Fun: “K-Ville”

Grade: C –

Now that Veronica Mars is off the air, I have to rebuild my TV-viewing slate from scratch. What better way to do that than sampling all of this fall’s new series? And what better way to alleviate my pain—because, come on, most of those shows are going to suck—than by warning other hapless viewers away from the networks’ lesser offerings?

First up is K-Ville. Premiering September 17 on Fox, this procedural (strike one! Like we need to see any more from that genre) concerns the efforts of the New Orleans police to maintain law and order post-Katrina. Marlin Boulet (Anthony Anderson) saw his partner Charlie Pratt (Derek Webster) run off amid rescue efforts, and his wife and daughter decamp to Atlanta in the midst of rebuilding. Boulet is out to clean up his city, he’s determined to win his wife back, and he won’t let his new, attitudinal partner Trevor Cobb (Cole Hauser) or overbearing supervisor (John Carroll Lynch) slow him down.

If I could select one police procedural to represent that television genre to aliens from another galaxy…K-Ville would not be it. New Orleans circa 2007 is a topic that could carry a show on its own—no he’s-a-cop-on-the-edge-of-a-nervous-breakdown-who-doesn’t-play-by-the-rules bullshit required—but the pilot is so packed with information that the city’s history, culture, and current state of devastation are relegated to references of comic-book depth. (Boulet really likes gumbo.) Jonathan Lisco, the show’s writer-creator, must have taken the crash-and-burn of last year’s serialized dramas to heart; he refuses to defer any information beyond hour’s end. This makes it hard to get invested in the characters. From the start, Boulet suspects Cobb of lying about his past; by episode’s end, Cobb’s past is revealed, and while I won’t spoil the surprise, I’ll bet we can count on him to deliver cynical one-liners and self-lacerating judgments, which I’d rather just supply myself. Anderson and Hauser are okay actors (probably), but the writing is so flat (and the direction so ADHD) that they can’t invest these guys with any depth; they’re reduced to marks-and-cue-cards acting, which is probably all that K-Ville wants of them anyway.

Really, K-Ville (it’s short for “Katrina-ville”) is less a procedural than a shoot-em-up, but the action is awful. In the first of two car chases, the show cuts directly from Boulet and Cobb, roaring down the street after the guy who shot Boulet’s neighbor, to the scene where they find the shooter’s vehicle crashed and overturned. The whole point of a car chase is to see the vehicles crash and overturn; if you don’t have the budget to do your crash right, spend it elsewhere. Like, try pretending you’re serious about your New Orleans setting and investing some script dollars accordingly. This isn’t a keeper.

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