Mysterical-Eye on TV & Film

Catching Up with This Fall’s Crime TV

Writing this column in the third week of October, I’ve had more than the usual time to sample the fall’s new crime TV series, and I’m particularly glad to see two of my favorites get full season orders, Blindspot (NBC) and Quantico (ABC).

Blindspot (Mondays, 10:00 P.M.) centers on a woman who emerges from a duffel bag the FBI originally suspected to contain a bomb. The woman (Jaimie Alexander) has no memory of her identity or her past, but her body is covered in fresh tattoos, including the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), who is then assigned to work with her.

Jane Doe’s tattoos appear to be crime- or conspiracy-related, but beyond that, Jane exhibits unique special ops training, making her more than an intelligence asset, also a valuable field agent.

I’ll admit it sounds far-fetched, and the premise has been done before–Remember FOX’s John Doe?–but I find myself intrigued by each week’s piece of the puzzle. By season’s end, perhaps we’ll have a large chunk filled in.

Quantico (Sundays, 10:00 P.M), meanwhile, flashes back and forth from the first day for a class of FBI trainees to the aftermath of a Grand Central Terminal bombing nine months later, in which any one of them may have played a part. The cast is led by Priyanka Chopra as Alex Parrish, the most promising trainee-turned prime suspect in the bombing.

Quantico resembles the first season of USA’s female-driven CIA drama Covert Affairs in some ways, but is decidedly darker in tone. Every character has secrets, and the question driving us through the season is, “How are they all connected?” The jumps back and forth in time seem abrupt this early in the series, but I can see them being accepted as part of the show’s rhythm given a few more episodes.

Along with the new shows, I noticed CBS’s original CSI ended its fifteen-season run with last month’s two-hour finale. To me, CSI glamorized forensic procedure at the expense of character. Like Law & Order before it, CSI managed to survive several cast changes because procedure was at the forefront.

I only watched Liev Shreiber’s memorable four-episode 2007 arc, the Star Trek parody episode, and one episode with Ted Danson’s D.B. Russell. Still there’s no denying CSI’s influence on almost every crime show of the 2000s. Crime shows after CSI that emphasized character did so in reaction to CSI’s cutout characters. And as much as I appreciate attention to character, shows where cops are lost without the help of outside-the-box thinkers can also wear on me.

One such show is FOX’s Rosewood (Wednesdays, 8:00 P.M.). Morris Chestnut stars as a brash and brilliant private pathologist whom the Miami police grudgingly consult. He drives a flashy yellow classic car and works in a pastel-colored lab. The show is produced by veterans of USA’s Psych and Monk and FOX’s own Bones, and so far hasn’t offered anything I haven’t seen before on those shows.

I’ll close with a look at FOX’s new sitcom The Grinder (Tuesdays, 8:30 P.M.). Rob Lowe stars as actor Dean Sanderson. Feeling aimless when his hit legal drama, also called “The Grinder”, ends its six-season run, Dean moves back home to join his family’s real law firm.

The Grinder parodies hyper-dramatic TV series filled with cliches, while also being a multi-generational family comedy. Fred Savage plays Dean’s real-life lawyer brother, Stewart, married with children. William Devane plays patriarch Dean Sanderson Sr.

Despite The Grinder’s star power, it hasn’t brought in ratings so far against veteran shows NCIS, The Voice, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Given the strength of its competition, though, I think it deserves more time, at least a different timeslot.

If it seems there are fewer new shows this season, consider that many veteran shows have been retained. NCIS is in its thirteenth season, Bones its eleventh, NCIS: Los Angeles its seventh, Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-0 their sixth. The pull of nostalgia also seems especially strong, with NBC’s Heroes Reborn airing now, FOX’s The X-Files returning in January 2016 for six new episodes, and remakes of The A-Team and MacGyver in development.

Have I missed one of your new favorites? What do you make of TV’s current nostalgia trend? Let me know in the comments. Until next time.

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