Line of Fire

Monday, February 16, 2004

As you may have heard, ABC recently announced that, despite previous announcements to the contrary, they have pulled Karen Sisco off the air. As a result, I almost decided not to review any more ABC shows. However, that's not a very mature thing to do, so instead I am only reviewing their show once it's off the air. Take that, Disney!

Anyway, Line of Fire is yet another hour long network drama that tries to replicate the success of HBO. Fortunately, unlike Kingpin, the producers of Line of Fire decided not to rip off The Sopranos and went instead for it's critically acclaimed, but largely unwatched cousin The Wire.

Like The Wire, Line of Fire concerns itself with a group of law enforcement officers (in this case the FBI) in a medium sized Southern city (in this case Richmond) and their ongoing attempts to bring down a local crime boss (played, in a truly inexplicable cast choice, by David Paymer).

Let's take a minute to look at that last parenthetical statement. David Paymer. As a crime boss.

It's such an odd casting choice that it really takes multiple episodes of the show before you can even begin to accept him in the role. David Paymer may be the least threatening actor in Hollywood. He's made a career of playing nebbishes with such success that it's pretty much impossible to accept him in any other role. I mean, from his perspective, this was probably a good move. It's always good, as far as the actor is concerned, to be given a chance to stretch one's dramatic chops. I just don't understand why a TV production company would feel the same. More than the movies, TV seems to be all about playing into your type. And yet, here we are with David Paymer as a crime boss. A crime boss with a horrible, horrible catch phrase as well. It's so bad I can't even repeat it.

So, once you've accepted Paymer in his wildly inappropriate role, the rest of the cast isn't bad, with the exception of Leslie Bibb as a young FBI agent. After the pilot, though, her screentime is cut down considerably, much to the benefit of the show.

Aside from those two dubious casting choices, the show only has one real problem. Instead of having the confidence to really just lay out the incredible detail of working to take out a large criminal operation over the course of multiple episodes, the show falls back into easy-to-digest one hour stories. If you're going to knock off The Wire, knock it off properly, or just knock it off in general.

Rating: B- (At least it's ripping off a good show)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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