A review of last night’s “Prime Suspect” – and how the show has evolved from its very shaky pilot – coming up just as soon as I call dibs on telling you that a tarp is not a reasonable expectation of privacy…
I haven’t written up this show in a few weeks, but there was a moment in the third episode where I felt like the show clicked into place. Jane, Calderon and Augie are trying to prove that a suspect’s alibi wasn’t ironclad, and that if he ran, he could have committed the crime within the allotted timeline. So one by one, each of them attempts to run the distance, with Jane too pathetically out of shape to do it, Calderon too good a runner for it to be a fair test, and Augie turning out to be just right, and each of them busting on each other as they did it. It was the kind of strange, funny moment you’re not used to seeing in straight-forward crime procedurals anymore, and it seemed to capture the kind of character-driven cop show that Alexandra Cunningham and Peter Berg have said they wanted to make.
So the cartoonish sexism of the pilot has been largely eliminated(*), in favor of having most of the detectives not liking Jane because she’s an extraordinary pain in the ass, regardless of gender. And Cunningham and the other writers have turned the squad itself into a kind of character, where the whodunnit is there mainly to provide an excuse for the detectives to bounce off each other.
(*) Though I did like the subplot in that third episode where Jane doesn’t get along with the more flirtatious, overtly feminine detective whom Reg and the other guys all like. There’s sexism within that attitude – that only women who act a specific, traditional way are tolerated – but its subtler and felt more true to life.
So the highlights for me of “Regrets, I’ve Had a Few” had very little to do with who killed the girl, but with seeing Jane go over Lt. Sweeney’s head to call in a favor from her ex-boyfriend Deputy Chief Costello (played by Peter Berg, who will still dabble in acting from time to time if one of his projects needs it), and then having Costello screw her over by leaking an important detail of the case, or seeing Velerio take pleasure in Reg being cursed, or (my favorite) Augie busting out his “Lawrence of Arabia” routine while dealing with the homeless men in the squadroom. I have no idea if this is what an actual detective squad functions like, but it sure feels like it, and I’ve always been more drawn to stories of police culture than straight-up police investigations.
The ratings for last night aren’t in yet, but given how great World Series Game 6 was, I imagine they’re going to be even worse than previously, which is a shame. I’d blame the pilot as doing a bad job selling what the show has become, but nobody tuned in for the pilot, either. You can blame the hat, the marketing, the oversaturation of cop shows (female-driven or otherwise), or the mere fact that NBC can’t get people to tune into much of anything anymore, but I fear this is a show not long for this world. And that’s a shame, because I’m always glad to see a show figure itself out as quickly as this one has.
What did everybody else think? Are you enjoying what “Prime Suspect” has become?