Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crossing Lines - NBC's New Crime Drama

While NBC has hosted some of the best crime dramas throughout the years, mainly the Law & Order franchise, it has come up thin recently.  The hit Hannibal is amazing and the premiere of Crossing Lines holds a lot of potential.  The series revolves around a group of experts in individual fields; interrogation, technical, undercover & covert operations, weapons & tactical, criminal analysis, and a star ex-NYPD officer who are plucked out of their countries by Major Daniel of the International Criminal Court, to join a kind of dream team to investigate and solve murders that span throughout Europe.  They are given credentials by Michel Dorn (Donald Sutherland) through the ICC as there is no police force with the ability to investigate over so many different jurisdictions.  We have never seen this type of series as most in the genre focus on a specific city and in episodes where they have to cooperate with other agencies it almost always stirs up conflict, so right off the bat Crossing Lines has created a fresh, new type of show making a niche for themselves. 

The premiere episode played more like a movie; a two-hour introduction to the characters, their personalities, which characters clash and which ones bond, and their first case investigating a serial killer who is jumping countries to commit each new crime.  It was entertaining, the dialogue was genuine and with this type of ensemble cast the acting was spot on and none of it came off awkward or forced like so many pilot episodes.  The main character, Carl Hickman, had been shunned from the NYPD after his last case, in which the perpetrator shot his right hand.  This made him delve into pain management issues as well as disability issues as he can not write or shoot a gun.  Throughout the episode we get to see each specialist at work and I was truly impressed at the production's ability to show each character thriving in their own field with cutting edge technologies and simulations that were plausible but not too far fetched.  For example when Sienna, the Scotland Yard interrogation specialist, used sensory memory to help a witness remember the crime scene the audience was put into his memory as well.  As the scene developed, aspects of the day such as the weather, the smells, the sounds and the people came into focus.  The witness was even able to recollect the person of interest and when the camera zoomed into him, his face was just an eerie black hole inside a hoodie.  It was real, if the witness was able to see his face and composite a sketch it would be a little too convenient and unbelievable.  It teetered us right on the edge of magic and reality, and the scene was beautifully created.  We saw this again when Sebastian, the technical wizard hailing from Berlin, was able to make a 3D rendering of the scene adding the cool spy-like tools viewers love to see but not going over the top into the realm of science-fiction.  The storyline was that of a murderer who took escorts from one country to another, dressed them up in the same heel & dress combination that his mother wore in his childhood, slit their wrists & thighs so they began to bleed out, gave them a chance to run away, and getting off on their fear, proceeded to hunt and kill them.  The team was ultimately able to follow the clues, catch the murderer (after one of their own was kidnapped), kill him, and save Anne-Marie, their abducted colleague.  Unfortunately in the process, Sienna was killed meaning no more cool interrogation scenes in the weeks to come.  They spent a lot of time building up the relationship between Sienna and Tommy, which gave her murder the tone it needed as she will be missed as well as planting a seed of sorrow and anger in Tommy that I am sure we will see played out in the next episodes.  They also began storylines with both Carl and Daniel who also have grudges and nemeses of their own as Carl hunts the man who shot off his hand while Daniel and Michel pursue the perpetrator who killed Daniel's son.  All this is enough to tune in for, but I expect we will also have new murderers who the team will investigate as a whole in each individual episode.

Overall it was exciting on multiple levels, some good underlining story issues were introduced, it has a great cast with variety of personalities and shows a lot of promise.  If you're into crime dramas I would say this is an A+.  Lately I have been bored with the low budget cable productions of the same genre, but Crossing Lines has veered off the path of conventional and put together an impressive presentation for network TV.  Similar shows like Castle, The Mentalist, Body of Proof and others are great for long running shows and have the ability to miss a few episodes and still capture an audience.  I think that with the individual cases each week Crossing Lines will be able to draw that audience, but it also will keep us guessing and excited for what comes next for loyal viewers.  It seems to me that a change is coming for network TV and this is a prime example of it.  The recent shows have a unique realness to them and there appears to be more effort put into the writing, casting and production which I am thrilled to see.  I am impressed and few shows are able to do that for me anymore, so tune in and enjoy! 

Here is a list of the characters, their specialty and their country:

Det. First Grade Carl Hickman (USA): ex-NYPD
Michel Dorn (USA): ICC
Det. Major Louis Daniel (France): ICC
Sebastian Berger (Germany): Technical Genius
Sgt. Eva Vittoria (Italy): Undercover & Covert Operations
Anne-Marie San (France): Criminal Analyst & Traffic Crimes
Tommy McConnel (Northern Ireland): Weapons & Tactical

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