So, after the kids went to sleep, Husband and I managed to watch two new crime shows, just for the fun of it: Will Trent and Alert. I’m kind of picky about my crime shows (to the point of writing my own sci-fi police procedural, of course), but I had high hopes for these two.
Let’s start with the bad and get it over with. Alert is one of the most godawful shows I’ve ever seen, bar none. Among crime shows, we’ll have to do the Moneyball meme to even express how horrible it was.
I really wanted to like it. I like kidnapping stories, provided there is a happy ending and everyone goes home safe, of course. I also really like Scott Caan. Hawaii Five-0 is one of my all-time favorites (even though it takes a seriously huge dose of “willing suspension of disbelief” to get through each episode), and I was looking forward to seeing what Scott Caan would do next.
Based on his prior acting jobs, he hated the show as much as I did. His acting is terrible, which is a switch for him. He’s not a particularly wonderful actor, but he’s convincing in the roles he chooses. He’s almost a John Wayne or Charlton Heston type actor: he always plays the same guy, but he does it well.
Not this time. He was wooden, unconvincing, and it was painful to watch. Now, I usually give any new show the first episode as a freebie, because it takes a little while sometimes for the actors to really get into their parts, sometimes the script is a bit iffy, and so on. Everybody gets a do-over after the first episode.
The second episode was even worse than the pilot. We went from Hawaii Five-0 willing-suspension-of-disbelief because you love the show anyway, to “what the F*&$ did I just watch, were the writers high or just plain stupid?” Plot holes big enough to drive a Super Star Destroyer through:
. . . starting with “hold on, the head of the missing persons unit in the Philadelphia PD has a missing kid, and she still has that job?” and getting to “you really think a former Delta Force guy would act like such a whiny little twit?” and finishing with “hold on, you’re working a time-sensitive kidnapping case, and yet you dropped everything to go all the way out to Vegas from Philly to follow up a lead on a six-year-old case, and then somehow got back in time to save the day in Philly?”
The show might have worked if the police characters were separate from the parents-with-a-missing-kid characters. So, Scott Caan could have played the guy working with the missing persons unit who has an ongoing relationship with these distraught parents–the typical “that one case I never solved” thing. That could have worked. But no, they tried to make it the same people, and it bombed.
The supporting characters hit every woke lever in the books, including the black woman with some kind of occult practices (lighting candles and doing chants in the office in the middle of a kidnapping case, no joke) who thinks she has been reincarnated and remembers her past lives, to the “disabled” forensics tech who likes to draw attention to himself by accusing other people of being “pre-disabled,” whatever the hell that means (and they never do say exactly what sort of disability he has, and it’s not obvious from watching it, like paralysis, double amputee, blind, etc. would have been), and Scott Caan is the only white guy in the show. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (see below commentary on Will Trent), but when they have to shoehorn it in so desperately, it’s just woke virtue-signaling, not good plot or good acting or good characters.
Bottom line? Avoid it like the plague. Not even Scott Caan can save that dumpster fire.
Moving on to the good.
Will Trent was a far superior show. Characters that were memorable, a good plot, and only a tiny little smattering of the woke virtue-signaling, including one minor character that is apparently becoming a recurring one, who insists upon the “they/them” pronouns.
Will Trent is part of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Having been in Atlanta once (stranded at their airport, actually), it makes perfect sense for there to be several more than usual black characters, because of the demographics of Atlanta. That’s just a simple fact. So, rather than seeing them just casting minority actors and actresses because they’re trying to be politically correct, there’s actually a good reason for it.
The personalities are great, the backstories are hard, but believable, and rather than it being a massive pity-party for these characters with a hard past, it makes them more three-dimensional, and much more interesting. It’s not about them wallowing in their past; it’s about them overcoming it, which is very refreshing.
Last night, we watched the third episode, and it was a little weaker than the first two. It was almost as if the writers had to stick in some politically correct plot with the obligatory white racists, and have done with it. So, hopefully they won’t stick with that kind of plot for the rest of the show. One episode, fine. Not all of them can be as good as the first two. But I’ll be very upset if I have to come back here in a month and write another review about a good show that evolved into another dumpster fire.
So, one dumpster fire, and one good show. I guess a 50-50 ratio isn’t too bad. We’ll have to see if Will Trent can stick the landing.