Karen Sisco

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Now, this? This is, by all rights, what should be my favorite show of the season, not that damned Joan of Arcadia. It's based on a book and short story by Elmore Leonard, who is one of my favorite writers ever. The book on which it is based was previously adapted as a movie, Out of Sight, which, even with the massive retroactive transtextual baggage Jennifer Lopez bring to the film, is probably on my all-time Top 10 List, maybe even up in the Top 5. The show stars Carla Gugino, towards whom I am favorably inclined for both her recent Robert Rodriguez association as well as her general similarities to Lynda Carter, as the title character, a U.S. Marshall who has remarkably bad luck with men (3 bank robbers to date). As if that wasn't enough, it's got Robert Forrester, who kicks as much ass as ten mortal men, as Karen's dad (taking over from Dennis Farina in the film version). (It's probably worth mentioning that the wife and I spent about a week over the summer talking like Robert Forrester after listening to him narrate a book on tape. We love Robert Forrester.) And I guess the producers must have decided to swipe as much of the cast of Fastlane as they could, since Bill Duke plays basically the same character on this show as he did on Fastlane, which is fine with me, since I miss Fastlane quite a bit.

So, in short, this show is made for me (and, judging by the ratings, me alone).

And yet...

It's not quite there. The show is produced by the usual Elmore Leonard-loving crew of Sonnenfeld and DeVito, who, while they should be praised for their insistence in bring the Florida crime genre to both the big screen (Get Shorty, Big Trouble) and small (Maximum Bob), don't really seem to get the Leonard feel. They're clearly better suited to the more comedic style of Carl Hiaasen or recent James W. Hall. While Leonard's later Floridian novels are a little lighter than his grittier Detroit-set novels, they rarely dip into the near-toxic levels of quirkiness that seem to amuse the Jersey Films crew so much.

So the first few episodes (two of which were directed by Michael Dinner, who presented the most woefully off-base attempt at the Floridian crime genre, The Crew) aren't really right - a little too jokey, a little too precious, a little too overstylized. Subsequent episodes (particularly "Justice") swung too far in the other direction, and lost the humor altogether. I'll admit that Leonard's hard to adapt. As far as I'm concerned, there have been precisely two films that got it right (Out of Sight and Jackie Brown if you're keeping score), which compared to the 15 or so that were failures to one degree or another, indicates a fair degree of difficulty in capturing his mix of humor, grittiness, and, above all, the sense of pre-determination that pervades his stories.

That having been said, the show is certainly picking up steam. The fifth episode, in which a forgotten classmate of Karen's, gets busted for counterfeiting was pretty enjoyable, and the sixth was flat-out great. Karen becomes more of a minor character, and the people's she's chasing (a prisoner who keeps breaking out to be with his true love -- sounds cheesy, but it was really good) get to take over the story. Really, all it needed was maybe two more scenes with Robert Forrester and we would have had a perfect episode of television. Make more like that, and I'll be a very contented viewer.

At least until ABC cancels it.

Rating: A- (Getting better every week!)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
Contents
The Hills Have Eyes 2

Hostel Part II

Six Degrees

Shark

Jericho

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Justice

The Hills Have Eyes

Love Monkey

Out of Practice

Head Cases

Crunchwrap Supreme

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Batman Begins

Garden State

Hero

13 Going On 30

LAX

Starman

quirkyalone.net

Kill Bill, Vol. 2

Line of Fire

We Shall All Be Healed

Happy Family

Arrested Development

Love Actually

A Minute with Stan Hooper

Tarzan

Karen Sisco

Stop All the World Now

Cold Case

Skin

10-8

Joan of Arcadia

Eve

Luis

Lost In Translation

House of 1000 Corpses

Bubba Ho-Tep

Darkness Falls

Pirates of the Caribbean

The Amazing Race

Treasure Island

FearDotCom

Adaptation

To Hit Armor Class Zero

Without A Trace

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

Life With Bonnie

Jalapeņo Cheeseburger

The Mothman Prophecies

Happy Campers

The Man Who Wasn't There

Kiss of the Dragon

Josie & the Pussycats

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Dr. Pepper

Know By Heart

Waking Life

L.I.E.

Thirteen Ghosts

Earthlink presents Chang and Eng

New York and Country Bar

Change

Motivation and Water Tower Grammar

Crossing Philly

Makeout Club

Undeclared

The Gap

The Abolition of Work

3000 Miles to Graceland

Kolobos

Duets

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Diesel Sweeties

The Cold Six Thousand

The Grilled Stuft Burrito (Rebuttal)

60 Second Wipeout

The Patriot

Grilled Stuft Burrito

Cowgirls

Crystalline

Frankenfinger E.P.

One Force Down

Shake

Both Our Secrets

Happy Birthday Captain Columbus!

Fight Club

Whatever It Takes

Committed

That Skinny Motherfucker with the High Voice?

Joe Dirt

The Veggie Whopper

Taco Bell Nachos

Palmetto

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero

The Terror of Mechagodzilla

To The Center

Infiniti+Infiniti

American Psycho

The Del Shredder

What Lies Beneath

The Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Bring It On

Chill Factor

Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars

Bad Company

The Blair Witch Project

Hyacinths and Thistles

Lake of Dracula

We'll Have a Time

Home Depot

Snow Day

The Virgin Suicides