TV Review: K-Ville – Pilot Episode

The floating heads are disconcerting.
K-Ville Pilot Episode

Starring: Anthony Anderson, Cole Hauser, Blake Shields, Tawny Cypress, John Carroll Lynch

Series Creators: Jonathan Lisco

When I first heard about this show, I didn’t have much intention of watching it. I don’t generally watch cop shows, and generally don’t care for FOX shows in general. My initial impression of K-Ville, a cop show set in post-Katrina (the “K” in the title) New Orleans, is that it might end up being a perfectly decent show that wouldn’t really appeal to me.

I decided to check it out anyway, for the simple reason that it was the first new network show to air. Along with the return of Prison Break, K-Ville helped kick off the new TV season, making it easy for me to check it out without any other scheduling conflicts. I simply set my PVR to record it, then got around to watching it last night when I had a free hour before bedtime, with absolutely no expectations or preconceptions about what I was about to watch.

What resulted was quite possibly the worst hour of television I’ve ever seen. Absolutely putrid on every level, from the ridiculous plotting, hammy performances, juvenile scripting, and manic filming, it was pretty hard to believe that a major network in the year 2007 was trying to pass this off as a plausible cop show, much less one they were hailing as “a landmark television series”.

Since I was watching with my wife, but sitting behind her at the computer while she was on the couch, I tried to keep my comments to myself in case she was enjoying it (although, if she were, I might have had to re-evaluate the esteem in which I hold her in). It wasn’t easy, as each ridiculous passing moment left me more exasperated. Luckily, after about twenty minutes she spoke up saying that she wasn’t enjoying it so far (most likely a measured response with which to gauge my response, in case I had been enjoying it), which allowed me to respond “I’m surprised you couldn’t HEAR my eyes rolling”.

After that, I was able to find small levels of enjoyment in what would otherwise be an excruciating experience, as I was now free to openly mock the show and marvel at the bits of unintentional comedy on display. Every time the camera would do a tight zoom at an Anthony Anderson “intense” stare, or highlight a particularly bad piece of macho dialogue between Anderson and his partner Cole Hauser (of which there was ample amounts), I’d be able to laugh out loud while wondering how something this bad has gotten this much hype (ugh, the hype. Not only did I have to watch promos for it all Sunday while watching football, I’ll now have to continue to do so throughout both football, AND the baseball playoffs, since this episode garnered higher ratings than did Prison Break, all but guaranteeing that it won’t be cancelled before the baseball hiatus).

It’s as though K-Ville were from another era, like the 80s, where clichéd buddy-cop shows littered primetime, eschewing any concept of realism and ignoring the advances made in cop shows since Law & Order hit the landscape. Instead, it hits all the old clichés, including the renegade cop (Anderson), his new partner with whom his style does not mesh (Hauser), gun fights (two), car chases, implausible schemes foiled in 42 minutes, and an elaborate and unusual threat against said renegade cop’s life. On top of that, it makes sure to hit off on a bunch of New Orleans clichés for good measure, with all the gumbo, jazz, and voodoo that implies. The best is when John Carroll Lynch goes most of the episode with his normal voice, then tries to slip on a Louisiana accent in a few scenes, but does so very cautiously, as though the director (Deran Sarafian) just gave him that suggestion before shouting out “action”.

It’s as though writer Jonathan Lisco had spent a few months watching old episodes of Miami Vice and T.J. Hooker and thought to himself “why don’t they make shows like that anymore”, without realising the answer is “because they’re hokey representations of a time gone by, rendered hopelessly ridiculous by a decade of TV crime procedurals”. I realise that after watching three seasons of The Wire I’d have to adjust my realism expectations, but no amount of adjustment would prepare me for not one, but two scenes of Anderson and Hauser chasing after fleeing cars while unloading their glocks in the middle of the street. What cop does that anywhere? I’m not even sure they were aiming them before they starting firing.

But, wait, it gets worse! When the time comes to wrap up the episode, which involved a crazy conspiracy-laden criminal enterprise instead of the very real level of crime that is currently gripping New Orleans, Anderson and Hauser reveal the scheme in such a way that I was expecting the perp to exclaim “and I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”.

Unbelievably, the show was still able to save one more stupefyingly-stupid piece of business for the end of the episode, giving one of the characters the dumbest backstory I’ve seen on television outside of professional wrestling. At that point, I was almost on the floor, laughing at all the unintentional humour, and was grateful it was over. There’s only so much a guy can take.


Related Reviews:
Hustle & Flow (2005)
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
The Wire – Season One

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