April 23, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and the production of episodes for the regular season: a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads. The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting, and even story. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.
Previously… on NYC 22:  6 rookie cops start work at New York’s 22nd Precinct in Harlem   ex-reporter Harper (Adam Goldberg); former soldier Perry (Leelee Sobieski); ex-pro basketball player “Jackpot” (Harold House Moore); Sanchez (Judy Marte), whose family has a criminal background; Khan (Tom Reed), a recent immigrant; and McLaren (Stark Sands), who already has a crush on a local resident.  The half-dozen new officers work under the supervision of “Yoda” Dean (Terry Kinney).  
Episode 2:  The first regular episode of NYC 22, written by Talicia Raggs and directed by Felix Alcala, was enough to make a viewer long for ABC’s Canadian summer series Rookie Blue.  The night featured 3 plotlines.  In one, a block’s friendly longtime pot dealer, tolerated by the cops, had his house firebombed, leading to fears of a drug war.  This turned out to be the kind of storyline where there’s one detail given far more play than it seems to deserve–in this case, the brand of liquor whose bottle was used as the container for the bomb–so it can pay off later when a seemingly harmless character is seen with the same brand and thus marked as the bomber.   The second plot had ex-athlete Jackpot trailed by an old friend, a rapper turned actor trying to research his next part as a cop (someone was watching Californication this season), who of course causes much trouble in his wake.  And the third continued the story of McLaren’s crush on the sister of a teen who McLaren is trying to keep out of the gang life. 

All of this was utterly generic and almost completely uninteresting.  The firebombing plot could have taken the background of a gentrifying Harlem and tensions between old and new residents (a subject, set in the Chicago area, dealt with beautifully in the new play Clybourne Park) and done something insightful with it, but the show has so little feel for any genuine location–it may be shot in NY, but its heart is on a backlot–that the story just lied there.  The other plotlines were even less developed, with “reversals” out of the TV cop show playbook.  Nothing we learned about the characters in the pilot was developed in any way in the episode–it could well be the case that this episode aired out of order for all the difference it would have made.  The actors, given nothing to do, just recited their lines and turned their script pages to the next dreary scene.
NYC 22 had an unpromising premiere in the ratings, and there’s no reason to think it will show any substantial improvement or have any serious chance to be brought back next season.  Nor, on the basis of these episodes, should it be.  As the cops might say, Nothing to look at here.  Just move along. 
Original Verdict:  If Nothing Else is On…
Pilot + 1:   Sunday Night Is TV’s Best.  Watch Something On Cable.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."