I just watched this show and I have to say…I am very, VERY pleasantly surprised by how good this is. This was the one show I was fairly dead-set against watching. We already have an excellent organized crime show in The Sopranos, and the Heist shows this year are far too numerous to mention. So what sets this show apart? Well…for starters it has quite possibly the best cast I have ever seen in any tv show, and on top of that, the storyline is damned compelling.
First, the cast. This show has a lot of big names attached to it. I mean a lot! First off, THE big draw for me, Amy Smart. I’ve adored her in pretty much everything I’ve seen her in, and she is stupendous in this show. Not to slight the other actors, but she’s miles above all the others she has scenes with in this pilot. Virginia Madsen is also no slouch. She pulls off the down-trodden, ex-junkie role very well, and it is heartening to see her actually trying to improve herself for the sake of her family. That’s pretty much it for the girls though…now let’s look at the men…the main crux of the show such as they were.
Ray Liotta actually seemed to have been born to play this role. He was great as the lead-man-trying-to-get-out and you actually feel for the guy when he realizes how inevitable his lot in life is. Simon Baker had a very…interesting role in this show. I’m used to seeing him in a much more…civilized? I guess would be the word…role and seeing him as a cold-blooded, ruthless assassin was a pleasant change of pace and will probably help him to escape any type-casting he might have been subject to. Johnny Lee Miller also shows up here. He had a pretty minor role unfortunately, but his few scenes were all memorable and quite enjoyable so I hope to see more of him. The relationship between his character and Amy Smart’s character should also be interesting as apparently there is quite a history involved. Franky G is the final regular. He was pretty good in this, but I haven’t really seen him in anything else so have nothing to guage against. All in all, an extremely solid cast.
The most interesting sub-plot this episode was probably the possibility that Virginia Madsen’s character could potentially have been having an affair. Atleast that’s what I got from her little chat with the doctor. If that is the case, while I’m sure it can devolve into cliche territory, the tension between her and Ray Liotta’s character should be fun to watch. How much will he want to leave the business if he feels he has nothing left to lose? I don’t expect this to be picked up as a major storyline anytime soon, but it should be interesting when it rolls around.
The Amy Smart-Johnny Lee Miller romance storyline was also interesting. I want to know their history. I want to know what’s wrong…and a show that can make you care about the characters sufficiently to wonder that based on the first episode is at the least a watchable show. Simon Baker’s character’s loneliness was also intriguing. It’s another cliche to have an assassin as a lonely hearts type man who wants some stability like a good woman in his life, but it strikes me as somewhat overdone. We’ll see if the writers involved can take it in a new direction instead of retreading old ground.
All told, I enjoyed the pilot. It was a good start for the show and I hope to see more of the same in the rest of the season. Hopefully this won’t be one of the shows to fall to the wayside, but will be a longlasting contender.
Next: Finally, finally…more reviews! Then the AoA retro piece!