TV

The Time Has Come To Revive ‘Fastlane’


IVA

In 2018, it seems like every other television series is a reboot or a revival. Will & Grace, Murphy Brown, Charmed, Roseanne (aka The Conners). This isn’t even necessarily a judgment as much as it is a very obvious observation. But with this observation, it’s only clear now what must be done: Fox needs to look inside its heart of hearts — or really, its wallet/money bags/Scrooge McDuck-type swimming pool of gold coins — and Bring. Back. Fastlane.

For the unaware, Fastlane was essentially Miami Vice meets Starsky & Hutch for the 21st century (before the Miami Vice movie came out). Created by McG and John McNamara, the series starred Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy as buddy-cop duo Van Ray and Deaqon Hayes, two very different cops who are at least similar in one very special way: They both play by their own set of rules. So much so, even, that they attract the attention of Tiffani Thiessen’s Lt. Wilhelmina “Billie” Chambers (who, despite her leadership role is also a bit of cop who plays by her own set of rules).

After some clashing over said set of rules, Billie invites Van and Deaq to become part of her very deep undercover task force in the LAPD, based out of a very 2002 era headquarters called the “Candy Store” (which is like if Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle anthropomorphized… and then threw up). As part of the task force — and with the help of all the shiny seized toys that fill the Candy Store — Van and Deaq’s job is to basically live a 24/7 life of crime in order to bust crime. And since the show only lasted one season, it never got to the point where every major criminal organization in Los Angeles realized these two guys were definitely undercover cops.

Unlike its similarly-fated network contemporaries (the aforementioned John Doe, Firefly, Keen Eddie, all two episodes of Girls Club), ratings-wise, the series actually did fine. It eventually moved from Wednesdays to Fridays, so there was a natural drop there, but between it and the series it was eventually paired with on Friday nights — the Dominic Purcell-led John Doe — it looked like Fastlane would be the one getting the second season renewal. Except it didn’t.

You see, it’s important to remember that this was a show created by McG and all that this entails. Namely, it was expensive as hell. The sets, the cars, the explosions, the split screens, the slow motion, the music (which is gutted in DVD music replacement) that helped the series double as a nu-metal music video. Fastlane had it all. In fact, it was non-stop in having it all. It was great.

These days, when it comes to Fox and the buddy cop genre, the network has been super invested in its adaptation of Lethal Weapon — which has been a non-stop disaster behind the scenes — when it could be more invested in bringing back Fastlane, which was clearly never a disaster behind-the-scenes, because Peter Facinelli, Bill Bellamy, and Tiffani Thiessen have never not been consummate professionals.

And now, for some peer-reviewed* research as to why bringing this show back is the best course of action.

(*I read a draft of this piece to one of my dogs.)

IVA

It’s Either This or Miami Vice, and At Least With This, Fewer Childhoods Will Be Ruined

As someone who actually was a child during Fastlane’s run, I can tell you nothing will be ruined by bringing Van, Deaq, and Billie (an even Big Boy, as a now skinny Aquarius) back to my television screen. Plus Miami Vice already got the feature film treatment.

And since I mentioned the Fox Lethal Weapon series, I should also note that the network buddy cop TV genre really needs this. As I said, Fastlane didn’t have the same behind-the-scenes drama (at least on the actors’ parts) for FOX as Lethal Weapon does, because Facinelli, Bellamy, and Thiessen are all professionals who would never think to pull any of the diva crap of Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans allegedly pulled. Peter Facinelli starred in the movie Telling You, which means he knew how to suck it up and just get through the day. Bill Bellamy was Cousin Skeeter, which means nothing was too ridiculous for him to do. Tiffani Thiessen was on Saved by the Bell, so of course, she knew how to be professional. (Obviously, when you weren’t professional, you ended up being an adult character on Saved by the Bell: The New Class.)

The buddy cop genre is one that’s currently dominated by fish-out-of-water and will-they-won’t-they procedurals, which are good in their own right but don’t completely scratch the same itch that a solid (mostly platonic) buddy cop series does. Seann William Scott is doing the best he can, but come on.

ABC is Trying to Bring Back NYPD Blue, So Now Even Adulthoods Will Be Ruined

I have a theory. It makes more sense to reboot a “failed,” short-lived series because you can improve upon the original material that didn’t quite work the first time around. (There are longer-lasting series — like Sliders — that also make sense to reboot under that “didn’t quite work…” classification.) Sure, Fastlane was perfect, and bringing it back wouldn’t be about improving anything other than the quality of everyone’s television viewing life; but we can pretend it wasn’t perfect for the purposes of this plea.

But seriously: ABC is casting the pilot for an NYPD Blue reboot/sequel series. And while I will watch every episode if it comes to series, I don’t necessarily get the idea behind taking a critically successful, long-running property (NYPD Blue got 12 seasons) and rebooting it. Reviving it, sure — especially since Will & Grace erased that terrible, no good original series finale — but thinking the key to selling people on something so beloved by doing a newer, less original version of that is a choice. Honestly, while I keep saying to “revive” Fastlane, even I know a reboot is probably a better idea simply because it’s a harder sell to try to get someone to revive an expensive one-season McG show than to just have the premise recycled. At the same time, when I think about who would be the younger version of Tiffani Thiessen in a reboot, all I can think is that it’s probably Bella Thorne, isn’t it?

Fastlane Titled Its Episode About Lesbian Cat Burglars “Strap On”

I have nothing to add to this, other than the fact that that’s a good enough reason to want a television show to continue to exist. Oh, and that it’s actually a pretty decent episode.

FOX

I Just Want My Leather Pants Back

The lack of leather pants on primetime television today is appalling. Please bring back the leather pants. I am not a crackpot. And honestly, the leather pants industry needs this.

The Fast and The Furious Franchise Has Proven The Market Exists For This Series

This is not the first time I’ve written about Fastlane and it will not be the last. But something to note about it is that the series aired a year after The Fast and The Furious came out and a year before 2 Fast 2 Furious. At that point, no one could have imagined that The Fast and The Furious would become a dynasty; surely people assumed it would be a flash in the pan, just like the shows (Fastlane) and movies (xXx, Torque)that followed as a result of it. Whoops.

Obviously, The Fast and The Furious franchise isn’t just about fast cars and hot babes (chicks? dames? skirts?): It’s about family. And so is Fastlane. The series premiere is all about Deaq wanting to get street justice on the man who murdered his brother (who was also Van’s partner and best friend). Van eventually has his daddy issues with his criminal forger father, Ray Ray (Robert Forster) And of course, Van, Deaq, and Billie are a very leather-clad version of found family (with Aquarius as their crazy uncle).

Really, when you think about it, maybe The Fast and The Furious stole the whole reliance on family thing from Fastlane. I mean, that definitely wasn’t a part of the franchise during or The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. Think about it. I know Brian Grubb at least agrees with me on this. So where’s Fastlane’s dynasty?

You Nerds Got Firefly and Family Guy Back to Come From the Dead

So it’s time for Fox to complete the “F” trifecta** and bring back Fastlane once and for all.

** You might think Futurama already did that, but I’m excluding it for the fact it was brought back on Comedy Central, not on Fox (like Family Guy) or as a Fox feature film (like Firefly).

On a macro level — at least, in terms of Fox — perhaps there should just be an FXX(X), in which Fox puts all of its “canceled too soon” shows on the air/on demand for people like me, who continue to obsess over this to a point I base an entire career on that making up a third of my entire brand. FXX(X) would let people know for sure that John Doe was not good, it could remind others just how good Keen Eddie actually was, and maybe it would allow some justice for Ben & Kate.

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