August 13, 2013



KING & MAXWELL isn’t the kind of show you’d particularly expect to see evolve between its premiere and season finale, and in fact it didn’t.  That’s too bad, because the TNT series, developed by Shane Brennan and based on characters created by novelist David Baldacci, was badly in need of improvement.  It may be the worst-plotted procedural on television, its storylines a mix of utterly routine (anyone vaguely familiar with B-movies could see tonight’s “seemingly dead friend who turns out to be the live villain” twist coming a mile away) and completely absurd (street criminals given brainwashing drugs to transform them into political assassins!), and while it tries to ride the charisma of stars Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romjin over those limitations, the actors can only carry their woeful scripts so far.

The season finale, written by Executive Producer Chris Downey and directed by James Whitmore, Jr, was more serious in tone than most of the preceding episodes, as it resolved the main serialized element of the season:  the assassination on his watch that had forced former Secret Service agent Sean King (Tenney) out of the Service 10 years ago and into private detecting.  Through the idiotic twists mentioned above, with the additional one that the victim’s son–now an aspiring politician himself–turned out to have been involved in the plot as well, Sean more or less solved the crime, with the help of his partner Michelle Maxwell (Romjin), assistant Edgar (Ryan Hurst), who hovers at the edge between quirky and Aspergian, and gruff-with-a-heart-of-gold FBI agent Rigby (Michael O’Keefe).  The B story was even less interesting, as we waited the length of the episode to find out what we already knew, that Michelle, having been accepted back into the Service herself, would decline the job to keep working with Sean (that’s why it’s called King & Maxwell and not King & Somebody Else).

Tenney and Romjin really are personable leads, but charm isn’t enough–at some point, actors need some help from their writers, and there was little to be had this season.  Hurst and O’Keefe are capable to the extent their very limited roles permit.  Production values in the finale were, as per usual, no more than adequate.

King & Maxwell hasn’t done much in the ratings, typically losing about 40% of its Major Crimes lead-in both in total viewers and the 18-49 demo, which puts it around a 0.4-0.5.  TNT has other shows in that neighborhood as well (Franklin & Bash, Perception), so the show’s future likely depends on what the network sees as its potential, and how it feels about the pilots it has in development.  In case there weren’t enough reason to root against K&M (Franklin & Bash is far from classic TV, but it’s at least pleasantly madcap at times), the show’s parting hint of next season’s central storyline was foreboding:  in the final scene, we discovered that everyone involved in the assassination was working for one more unidentified (and as-yet uncast–his face was never seen) individual who clearly represents yet another shadowy extra-governmental conspiracy, because TV doesn’t already have enough of those.  He even wears an evil signet ring, so we’ll know just how dangerous he is.  I, for one, could happily live without his organization ever being exposed to the light, and with Tenney and Romjin moving on to more deserving projects.


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."