After cancelling Southland — the most beloved, original, and exciting police drama to ever grace our airwaves — TNT unveils it’s new buddy-cop series. King & Maxwell puts forth little effort to differentiate themselves from it’s brothers-in-genre: Michelle Maxwell (Rebecca Romijn) is a woman, and, with Sean King (Jon Tenney), they make the perfect ex-secret service detective duo. What makes this show remarkable? It’s based on a book series, I suppose.
In film school we are taught the opening shot should state the overall theme of the project; it should serve as a metaphor. You can imagine my bewilderment as I watched Maxwell in a high speed car chase with a giant beaver driving a bus. Yes, that is funny, but why would a writer choose a beaver and not a dolphin? The only metaphor I could derive from the scene points to Michelle Maxwell as a lesbian. Anyway, it turns out the man in the beaver suit was blackmailing a senator. Apparently, the senator’s wife was getting some tail on the side — and the tail was flat. That’s right, the man in the beaver suit had a video of the wife fooling around with him. While he was in the beaver suit. Don’t worry, they caught him.
When you have two main characters who are professional partners, one man and one woman, it’s imperative that they not become sexually entangled (especially if the woman might be a lesbian). Unless that’s a part of the plot. Yet, King & Maxwell immediately showcase their flirtatious relationship. This brings about a slight sexual tension, both intensifying and cheapening the bond I perceived at the start; clearly, the partnership has had time to grow, but it’s not mature enough to have killed the possibility of sex. I don’t want to keep wondering if these two characters will end up boinking. Bones and Castle began with the main characters disliking each other; we watched them grow and learn to enjoy each other. Sean and Michelle have skipped that phase, why would we expect it to go anywhere without the same investment?
Besides the question of “Will they,” the series is standard. It has the buddy-cop dynamic, washed-up law enforcement with demons, and abrasive cops who are always one step behind. I do enjoy the fact King is also a lawyer; it saves time. At first, I had trouble believing he had time to go to law school between his dismissal from the secret service and his gumshoe days, but I got over that. I suppose he’s fairly aged.
The first case centered on a high-functioning autistic man being framed for murder. Edgar Roy (Ryan Hurst) may have been high functioning, but less autistic than I’d expect after watching Dustin Hoffman’s performance. It could be that Ryan Hurst took Tropic Thunder‘s “Never go full retard” to heart, or he hasn’t quite found his character yet. Whatever the case, Edgar seems only a touch beyond the Asperger level of autism, which took me out of the show.
King & Maxwell isn’t bad. But it’s nothing special. The chemistry is almost great, the acting is more than passable, and the dialog is quick, but less than memorable. It’s based on a book series, a fad quickly gaining speed, but is it a good idea for this genre? I’m not sure. Watch the series if you don’t have anything better to fit the genre, but it doesn’t take too much looking to beat this show.
King & Maxwell airs on TNT Mondays at 10/9c.