June 30, 2013

THE SKED’S PILOT + 1 REVIEW: “Crossing Lines”



A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. 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 CROSSING LINES:  Under the aegis of senior official Michel Dorn (Donald Sutherland), the International Criminal Court has established a multinational group of crimefighters to track down wrongdoers operating throughout Europe.  Each of our heroes, as it happens, labors under heavy baggage from crimes left unsolved and/or personal tragedies.  They’re led by Frenchman Louis Daniel (Marc Lavoine), whose squad includes former NYPD detective Carl Hickman (William Fichtner), German tech genius Sebastian Berger (Tom Wlaschiha), Italian undercover agent Eva Vittoria (Gabriella Pession), Irish weapons expert Tommy McConnel (Richard Flood) and French investigator Anne-Marie San (Moon Dailly).

Episode 2:  Due time was given to the inner demons afflicting the team.  Hickman has successfully (for now, anyway) replaced the morphine he was taking for the pain in his busted hand for mere painkillers; he’s also continuing his search for the child trafficker who attacked him.  Similarly, Dorn is, on Daniel’s behalf, on the trail of the Russian mobster responsible for killing the Frenchman’s son.  Meanwhile, McConnel is still grieving for the loss of the squad member who was killed in the pilot (the episode begins with her funeral), and San, it turns out, has been hiding a broken rib and bleeding in her lung from the injuries she sustained in the same case.

Psychic and physical wounds aside, Crossing Lines is primarily a procedural, and this was where the show’s second episode, written by Christopher Smith and directed by Laurent Bares, displayed some alarmingly bad plotting.  The crime itself was awfully far-fetched to begin with, with art forgers hiding their thefts of original masterpieces with a complicated scheme that called for the owners to invite a seductress home, be poisoned by her with the most lethal kind of radiation, then ring the local equivalent of 911 for help, whereupon no one would notice that two ambulance teams showed up on the scene, one of them made up of the thieves, who would replace the originals with their forgeries.  (Whatever happened to old-fashioned break-ins?)  This was compounded by the fact that the woman (former dancer, former prostitute) charged with luring the owners to drink the irradiated wine had her own issues, and was so disgusted with the owners wanting to seduce her that she was murdering them too quickly.  Our heroes figured it all out and tracked down the baddies with ludicrous speed, thanks to facial-recognition software and some high-tech thingie that told them instantly that radiation was present (even though they weren’t looking for it).  Then, as though to flat-out insult the audience, the show pulled the old “turning the spy microphone off for no good reason less than two seconds before spotting the villain” gambit.

This is very subpar screenwriting, even for low-budget summer TV, and if it’s what Crossing Lines intends to give us each week, the show isn’t going to be worth our trouble.  It would be something of a shame if that turns out to be the case, because Lines at least makes a gesture toward having more complicated characters than the usual run of such shows, and Sutherland and Fichtner head a cast that’s capable of more.

Crossing Lines didn’t get off to much of a start in last week’s ratings, with a 0.7 in 18-49s, and tonight will be its first 1-hour episode, airing after an SVU rerun that won’t give the show any kind of lead-in.  That’s hardly promising, but tonight’s hour suggests Lines may be getting what it deserves.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  Sunday 10PM Is DVR Hell Already–It’s Practically a Relief To Lose A Contender


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."