August 18, 2013



The peril of dotting a season finale with cliffhangers is that if the show is canceled, they’ll never be resolved.  That may very well be the dilemma for fans of NBC’s summer drama CROSSING LINES, which closed its season tonight with a 2-hour finale that was entirely open-ended.  One can never be sure with this kind of low-cost programming–if Hannibal could get renewed for a regular season run, anything is possible in summer–but Crossing Lines has been getting awful ratings all summer, not even holding onto the numbers from its SVU rerun lead-in, and the show’s mysteries may stay that way permanently.

As summer procedurals go, Crossing Lines has been fairly ambitious.  Created by network veteran Edward Allen Bernero, who wrote both hours of the finale (Hour 1 directed by Hannu Salonen, Hour 2 by Eric Valette), it attempted to create extended story and character arcs across its 10 episodes.  The finale brought in the season’s archvillains, who until now have been talked about rather than seen:  the American gangster Genovese (an effectively sleazy Kim Coates), head of a child-trafficking ring and the man who shot Hickman (William Fichtner) in the hand; and the Russian criminal mastermind Dimitrov, who was behind the bombing that killed the young son of Daniel (Marc Lavoine) and whom Dorn (Donald Sutherland) has been pursuing on Daniel’s behalf all season.

It was an oddly constructed finale in some ways.  Series regular Anne-Marie San (Moon Dailly) was MIA for the entire 2 hours, and Daniel was absent for the second half–whether Anne-Marie is alive or dead and Daniel’s fate after being captured by Dimitrov were among the cliffhangers, as well as the presumed attack Genevese was going to make on Hickman, after Hickman had captured and shot him in the head (to little effect) and then he’d been freed by an extremely corrupt Dutch police commander.  There was very little interaction among the leads, with Hickman, Dorn and Daniel (until he vanished) going in their own separate directions on investigations, and Anne-Marie missing–only the Irish, Italian and German wings of the International Criminal Court squad, respectively Tommy (Richard Flood), Eva (Gabriella Pession) and Sebastian (Tom Wlaschiha) spent much time together.  (The Eva/Sebastian story, in which Eva’s Italian police colleagues hacked Sebastian’s computer and wouldn’t let him back in to, you know, solve murders, unless he allowed his personal scandals to go public, made almost no sense.)  The one supposedly big revelation made everyone involved look sort of dumb: how could it never have occurred to anyone looking into the explosion at Daniel’s house that Dimitrov could have been targeting Daniel’s family not because of his investigation, but because his prosecutor wife had put Dimitrov’s war criminal brother-in-law in jail for the rest of his life?

That disconnection is indicative of how the show has worked all summer, with a reach that tends to exceed its grasp.  Plotting of individual episodes has been weak for the most part and sometimes downright cliched (the set-piece confrontation between Hickman and Genovese took place at a deserted carnival fun-house), relying too much on conveniently corrupt officials and connections between the detectives and their cases, while the characters have had little opportunity to grow beyond the way they were introduced at the start of the series.  Nevertheless, Crossing Lines has been considerably more interesting than other summer filler like Unforgettable, Motive and Siberia, even if not in a league with Under the Dome or Rookie Blue.   Fichtner is a fine actor, and Sutherland, when given a little meat in his material as he had in the finale, is a consummate pro, while the rest of the cast is proficient, gorgeous and sometimes even both.

Crossing Lines has the slick international look of Covert Affairs, but without that show’s escapist romance or adventure.  It leans toward the grim while lacking the substance that grimness needs in order to engage an audience.  (It’s also probably been hampered in the US by the thick accents of some of its characters.)  Still, in the empty shelves of network summer, it’s at least had some nutritional value, and NBC could do worse than allowing it to come back and tie up its loose ends.


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."