Cold Case

Thursday, November 6, 2003

It's been said by many many people before me that Jerry Bruckheimer may want to lay off the crime dramas for a little while. I guess he's not really a guy to back off a trend prematurely, but 4 crime dramas on one network is a little much. Then again, Cold Case was picked up for the rest of the season, so I guess there's really no reason for him to stop, unless he suddenly develops an aesthetic conscience.

So, since Cold Case looks like it'll be with us for a while, let's see if it's worth watching. Short answer (for those who are reading this at 7:59 on a Sunday evening and have to pick their evening's viewing RIGHT NOW) is no. The pilot jumped right in to a "torn from the headlines" story, which, in my opinion, is a pretty alarming way to start your pilot. In fact, I'm opposed to "torn from the headlines" in pretty much all cases. It's the main reason I can't watch Law and Order any more; what's the point in watching a procedural drama if you already know where it's going. If you really need to steal from real-life events, at least try to pick something that not every member of the viewing audience is likely to be aware of.

Ignoring my advice, Cold Case starts off with the Martha Moxley murder. Yawn. I suppose the producers invoked this case when pitching the show to CBS to show the dramatic possibilities of cold cases, so felt compelled to deliver their version as the pilot. Still, it makes for a boring story. The rich guy killed her? What a shock!

Anyway, our main character is a fairly boring blond cop (as opposed to the fairly interesting blond cop played by Poppy Montgomery over on Without a Trace) who solves cold cases with a passion, but only after her boss made her. Boring.

On the plus side, the pilot episode was directed by Mark "The Most Agressive Cut/Fade/Dissolve/Scene Transition Guy Working on the Major Circuit Right Now" Pellington, so the show does look good. They do a really nice job treating the film stock so it looks like it was shot in a period-appropriate time for the flashback sequences, which gives the proceedings a nice visual quality, even if it's solely lacking in, you know, plot and character.

Now, it may well be that the success of Jerry Bruckheimer's assorted crime dramas is the only thing giving him the clout to keep The Amazing Race on the air, in which case I can't really urge you not to watch his shows. But I'd much rather spend my energy convinced you to watch The Amazing Race instead. It's enough to burn off whatever hostilities you might have towards Mr. Bruckheimer and generate enough goodwill that you can't really hate shows like Cold Case as much as you should.

Rating: C (Not especially good. But looks nice.)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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