July 6, 2013



KING:  Friday 10PM on Reelz – If Nothing Else Is On…

One genre that’s never in short supply, even on summer TV, is the police procedural–in fact, during the summer months, even Canadian police procedurals seem to be just about everywhere.  Reelz has added another with the schedule-filler KING, an unobjectionable but hardly notable example of the form.

King isn’t exactly new; it made its debut on Canadian TV 2 years ago, and it doesn’t seem to have been produced with foreign consumption in mind, since unlike Rookie Blue or others of its ilk, it doesn’t pussyfoot around about taking place in Toronto.  Also, it was clearly a bargain-basement buy for Reelz (which is that network’s usual shopping territory, the aberration of The Kennedys aside), because the show has already been canceled in Canada, so the 21 episodes that exist are all there will ever be.  Based on the pilot, written by series co-creator Greg Spottiswood and directed by the first-rate pilot director Clark Johnson (his credits include the initial hours of The Wire and The Shield), its short life here in the US won’t lead to much mourning.

The King of the title is Jessica (Amy Price-Francis), who like most TV cop heroines is a brilliant and intuitive detective who’s aces at banter and looks great in high heels.  When we meet her, she’s been banished (because of her unwillingness to tolerate department politics, of course) to handle calls on the civilian tip line, but before long she’s brought in to replace a detective screwing up even worse than she did, Sergeant Derek Spears (Alan van Sprang).  Under his direction, the unit has been looking in all the wrong directions as the Major Crimes Squad tries to track down a missing girl.  At first, Spears resents King, but once she’s demonstrated her mix of compassion and street smarts, he’s from all appearances genuinely happy to be her #2.  King’s one piece of characterization beyond being the usual supercop is that she and husband Danny (Gabriel Hogan), also a cop, are trying to get pregnant, leading to plenty of gags about the degree to which KIng isn’t drinking or smoking.

King is generic stuff, but it’s no worse than Motive, which got the call to the big leagues from ABC, and it’s more bearable than some homegrown summer junk like King & Maxwell.  Price-Francis, who’s been on plenty of US shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Life Unexpected as a guest star, shows leading lady appeal, and van Sprang has some scruffy charm.  The writing is by-the-numbers–there are no particularly surprising plot twists or distinctive characters in the pilot–but not egregiously bad.

Reelz operates below the Nielsen radar, so unless the network decides to announce how King is doing, its reception will be out there in the ether.  In any case, as noted, the series is already past tense, so even success would be short-term and limited.  Still, in the wasteland of summer Friday primetime, King might do in a pinch.


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."