March 31, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Rush Hour”


RUSH HOUR:  Thursday 10PM on CBS – Change the Channel

It wasn’t long ago that CBS produced a pilot for a rebooted Beverly Hills Cop and decided, despite the participation of Eddie Murphy, not to proceed to series.  One can only imagine how horrible that pilot must have been after seeing RUSH HOUR, which the same network must have thought was a notch better as a rejuvenated vintage action-comedy, since it’s found its way painfully to the air.

Rush Hour wasn’t much even as a big-screen franchise, basically just a showcase for the charisma and particular skills of Jackie Chan as the by-the-book Hong Kong detective Lee, and Chris Tucker as his counterpart, rambunctious LAPD detective Carter.  (They were forced into being partners, grated against each other for the first few reels, but–who would have thought?–became trusted buddies in the end.)  The scripts were cardboard at best, but Chan was still a marvel of martial arts, Tucker had mastered his fast-talking schtick, and the two had an oddball charm.  All of that is gone in the TV version, with Jon Foo in Chan’s part and Justin Hires in Tucker’s.

One of the reasons for Chan’s stardom is that for most of his career, he was able to perform virtually all his own stunts, allowing his action sequences to be presented with a minimum of editing so that audiences could gasp at his daring and physical brilliance.  (The end-credits outtakes alone, showing his real-life injuries and risk of worse, were worth the price of admission.)  On TV, the action scenes are overedited in a standard way (the anonymous direction of the pilot is by Jon Turtletaub), so that it’s impossible to tell what, if anything, Foo is able to do and what is being left to stuntmen.  Hires, for his part, is capable only of a watered-down version of Tucker’s sputtering, outrageous, yet fragile ego.  Together, their characters have so little meat that they approach ethnic stereotype.

With neither star up to the challenge of equaling his forebear, and the two having negligible chemistry as a team, what’s left is the plot, which is woeful.  The pilot script, credited to the screenwriters of the original movie Jim Kouf and Ross LaManna, along with TV creators Bill Lawrence and Blake McCormick, is a weak thing about stolen statues and Lee’s apparently kidnapped or killed sister Kim (Jessika Van), all chased from China to LA, with mechanical “twists” coming at the end of each act, easily guessable in advance.  The main supporting roles go to poor Wendie Malick and Aimee Garcia, as respectively Carter’s long-suffering commander, and his more amiable ex-partner and BFF.  We can only hope that they’re at least well paid.

This Rush Hour is witless and charmless, dumb even by broadcast network procedural standards.  With ABC’s The Catch falling flat in the Thursday 10PM timeslot, though, there may be some eyeballs available for the utterly undemanding hour.  It that enables it to stay on the air, it won’t be a proud day for CBS–or for the viewers watching it.

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."