If you did an inventory of the top creative minds that ushered in The Golden Age of Television, Shawn Ryan would have to be on the top of that list. Ryan's gritty, provocative cop show 'The Shield,' featuring Michael Chiklis as one of the TV's greatest all-time antiheroes, was the first basic cable drama to showcase the kind of cinematic urgency we'd come to expect from movies and HBO. Now we expect nothing less from FX, the network that brought 'The Shield' into our living rooms.
One can expect less, however, from FOX, the network airing Ryan's return to the cop drama, 'The Chicago Code'. It's not that FOX hasn't shown its fair share of solid dramas, it's just that a show on a broadcast network can't explore as many nuanced, dark themes, or get away with as much, as a cable network like FX.
In its first hour, 'Code' wasn't as revelatory as 'The Shield.' But it's definitely ambitious, keen on addressing corruption on top of the standard chases, gun play, detective work and bursts of tough guy bravado. And, as a Chicago guy, it's great to watch a show about Chicago that was actually shot there.
Though much of it set in the world of the Chicago Police Department, it would be unfair to call this worthy drama from Shawn Ryan ('The Shield,' 'Terriers,' 'The Unit') a police procedural. A significant chunk of the story is devoted to police superintendent Teresa Colvin's efforts to combat corruption in the Windy City. To assist her in that lonely cause, the steely Colvin (Jennifer Beals) recruits her old partner, Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke), a tenacious detective well known for his headstrong ways.
Together, they take on a powerful alderman, Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo), a very well-connected shotcaller in the world of Chicago politics. This trio of increasingly interesting characters form the core of the show, and, in the three episodes Fox sent for review, any time Beals, Clarke or Lindo occupied the screen, 'Code' crackled with intriguing potential.
The amazing cast includes Jennifer Beals playing the first female superintendent of Chicago, determined to change the city; Jason Clarke as her former partner turned go-to guy for help on the ground; and Delroy Lindo as one of the city's most powerful men, who isn't exactly an angel.
Add to that a sharp rookie, played by Matt Lauria, and Billy Lush as a cop so deep undercover he doesn't really know what's right anymore and you've got a beautifully layered drama that's the best new show of the year.
I caught up with the cast to hear more about the show, the shades of gray in all their characters and their newfound respect for the Chicago police department.
We have about 27 new medical shows to keep track of this fall. Here's the other NBC hospital show coming this fall, Mercy. It stars Michelle Trachtenberg, James LeGros, Delroy Lindo, Jaime Lee Kirchner, and Taylor Schilling and follows each story through the eyes of the nurses. Maybe they'll like this show more than they like Nurse Jackie.
Well, here's a quirky little plot twist no one expected.
Even though NBC pulled the show - twice - the network started showing the eight unaired episodes of Kidnapped last night (or early this morning) at midnight! They'll run the show at this time each week this summer. Not sure if it can be seen at that time in all areas. I know it wasn't on at that time where I live, so it's probably on at different times overnight.
This is an interesting move by NBC, considering the episodes have been available on the web site and the complete series was released on DVD. Maybe the other networks can follow NBC's lead and show short-lived/canceled shows overnight.
Despite the show's quality, it never had a chance; saddled with a bad time slot (Wednesdays at 10), NBC showed four episodes, then told the producers to stop at 13, shuttled the show to the Saturday death slot, then canned it after one Saturday airing.
We've had a couple of stories here about the possibility of a Kidnapped DVD set in '07, and today Sony made it official. The Complete Series will be released on April 24. That's 13 episodes. No word on extras yet.
I actually liked this show, from the handful of episodes that NBC showed before dumping it on Saturday nights and then pulling it from the schedule altogether. But you know what? When the show went online only, I didn't even watch the remaining episodes. I'm not sure why. I was interested in the plot and what the outcome was going to be, but I just never took the time to watch the rest. Of course, I'm not sure I want to buy the show on DVD either, so maybe I'll watch them online after all (if they're still available, that is).
Kidnapped fans were upset when the show was canceled, but given 13 episodes to wrap up the plot. Then they were more upset when the show was taken off of Wednesday night and put on Saturday nights. And then they were absolutely ticked off when NBC pulled the show from Saturday nights because of low ratings (gee, low ratings on a Saturday night...what did they expect?). But now, fans can at least rejoice in the news that there might be a box DVD set of the show coming in 2007.
Anna told you earlier today about NBC pulling Kidnapped off of the Saturday schedule (wow, how bad do ratings have to be to have that happen twice in a matter of weeks?), and now comes word over at TV Guide that the remaining eight episodes of the drama will be shown on NBC's web site.
The show is being pulled and will not be seen again on the small screen after sweeps (we're at the start of the all-important sweeps period right now), but will be shown on your even smaller screen, your computer.
The show is filming its 13th episode even as you read this. Oh well. At least fans won't have to wait and see what's going to happen to the show and will be able to see the kidnapping plot reach its conclusion and not left hanging.
Last Saturday, Kidnapped got only about 3.7 million viewers, making it the lowest-watched program on television that night. Only five episodes of Kidnapped have aired so far and there's no word from NBC on whether it will even play out the rest of the 'season'. Starting this Saturday, reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent will play instead of Kidnapped.
Interesting piece in The Boston Globe (via Reuters) about NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright. He says that a recent story in the New York Post (owned by News Corp, which also owns FOX) saying that he was going to be replaced are completely untrue. The sources in the story were unnamed, and Wright says that the reason they are unnamed is because the paper made them up.
Now, that's kind of an interesting, in an insider baseball, industry sort of way. But Wright says something in the piece that got my attention. Wright told reporters that he's pleased with the start of the new season, especially the ratings for Heroes. He then adds:
"Kidnapped is clearly a bit of a disappointment. I think we probably just had a show that was maybe too difficult a concept."
Now, that's an intriguing statement. If the CEO of NBC is saying that a new show is too difficult for viewers (and talking about it as if it was in the past tense), I would say that's not good news for Kidnapped fans.
And I'm one of them. Though I'm not sure that the concept of the show is too difficult. I would say it's just because people are overdosing right now on shows that have one continuing story for the whole season, and also don't want to invest time in them if they fear they might be canceled.
(S01E01) If there's one thing you need to know about Kidnapped, it's this: nothing is as it seems. All we know after the opening episode is over is that Leopold Cain (Will Denton), the erudite son of wealthy Manhattan couple Conrad and Ellie Cain (Timothy Hutton and Dana Delany), has been kidnapped. We don't know why, and we don't know by whom. We also know that Cain has hired private investigator Knapp (Jeremy Sisto), who has a shady past but knows how to get people back to their families. His partner in investigation is Turner (Carmen Ejogo). We also know that Special Agent Lattimer King (Delroy Lindo) has been dragged into the case via his associtation with a bodyguard named Virgil (Mykelti Williamson). He and Knapp know each other, and they both know that they'll have to work together, whether they like it or not.
Everything else? It's completely up in the air. But that's what makes this show interesting.
Why not? Set visits have always intrigued me: will the sets look as good up close as they do on TV? How do they pull off some of the visual aspects of a show? Is the craft services table as good as they say? I was able to answer all those questions on August 30, when a group of reporters and I visited the Kidnapped set. We also got to have roundtable interviews with stars Dana Delany, Timothy Hutton, Delroy Lindo, and Jeremy Sisto, which was an experience, but not for the reasons you think. So, after the jump, here's the visual story of my morning on the Kidnapped set, complete with the requisite wise-ass remarks:
Folks, I never got into this job to be a red carpet/party reporter. I'm not good in noisy crowds of people I don't know, and I'm especially not good at fighting other people to be heard in a group. But when I found myself on the press side of the red carpet for the premiere of NBC's Kidnapped last night, I tried to do my best.
The red carpet consists of whatever stars are coming to the premiere slowly walking down a procession of press people: first they pose for photographers, then they talk to television and other video outlets, then they answer questions from lowly print outlets like us. I decided to hang out at the end of the line and catch what I could, since I'd also be going to the screening and the afterparty (which also doubled as the NYTVF launch party). And since I was on the Kidnapped set a few weeks ago (that post is in the works), there wasn't much more to ask the principals that I hadn't already. But it was still an interesting evening. After the jump, a few pictures of my night.
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