March 6, 2013



GOLDEN BOY:  Fridays 9PM on CBS

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and the production of episodes for the regular season: a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads. The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting, and even story. 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 GOLDEN BOY:  Seven years in the future (if the show runs that long), Walter Clark (Theo James) will be named the youngest police commissioner in New York history.  Right now, though, he’s an ambitious young cop who’s parlayed a splashy and reckless rescue into a gold shield in Homicide, where he has an avuncular if cranky partner in Owen (Chi McBride), and a ruthless adversary in Detective Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro).

Episode 2:  It’s already evident that, like Vegas, Golden Boy is likely to be a series that purports to be darker and more complex than the usual run of CBS procedurals, but really doesn’t dare to push any of the network’s genre boundaries.  The second episode, written by series creator Nicholas Wootten and directed by Jace Alexander, is almost entirely concerned with solving the routine murder of a woman whose body is pointed out by an informant.  The story’s twists could have come out of any CBS series of the last decade or two, and Clark’s supposed inspirations in putting the pieces together are far less exciting than the show would like us to think.

Golden Boy has spent most of its first two hours setting up the conflict between Clark and the utterly cardboard villain Arroyo, who in this episode hits a (relatively) innocent young girl in the face so we’ll know he’s a bad guy, and whose nasty plot to trap Clark and Owen, revealed at the episode’s end, is just plain silly.  Also silly are the show’s unsubtle attempts to fan sparks of romance between Clark and both Arroyo’s partner McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville, with an epically bad New York accent that makes her sound like one of the Bowery Boys) and the Assistant District Attorney who’s as gorgeous as Odette Annable because that’s who plays her.

Meanwhile, although Golden Boy nods to the idea that Clark is conflicted between his instinct to be a good cop and his raging ambition, the show’s depiction of him is nothing but sentimental.  In this single hour, he pays for the squad to buy its coffee at the diner where his sister is a waitress, gives what may be illicit money to the informant slapped by Arroyo (so she can stop being a junkie prostitute and go back home to Ohio, no less), and magnanimously makes sure the credit for solving the murder goes to Owen instead of himself.  No one is going to mistake this guy for Vic Mackey, or any of the other interesting, morally ambiguous cops who’ve dotted television since NYPD Blue.  It doesn’t help that Theo James comes across like he’s auditioning to become one of Marvel’s Avengers, and although it’s always great to see Chi McBride, a thorough pro who makes the most of all the wryness that’s to be found in Owen, it’s frustrating to see him wasted as Clark’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Golden Boy got off to a lousy start in the ratings, and this week it will move to Friday, where viewership is generally lower.  On the other hand, it’s nothing if not compatible with Blue Bloods, another procedural about a stalwart NY police commissioner, and no ratings bar is lower than Friday’s, so the series isn’t necessarily dead, at least not yet.  Nevertheless, there’s not much here so far to generate enthusiasm.


PILOT + 1:  Trapped In the CBS Procedural Straightjacket


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."