Image Credit: Danny Feld/TNTSome people were probably surprised last week when the series debut of Rizzoli & Isles scored a record-high number of viewers for an ad-supported cable show. (That “ad-supported” qualification = darn you, HBO!) Those people are clearly not aware of the all-powerful charms of Angie Harmon, whose Abbie Carmichael is my personal favorite Stern-Sexy Law & Order Lady A.D.A. If anyone deserved her own TNT sassy crimesolving show, it’s Angie Harmon. (Now, if TNT could just pair up Rizzoli with a new show starring Jill Hennessy, that would be perfection.)
I was pretty excited going into last night’s second episode, and it started off great with an intra-police baseball game: Homicide vs. Narcotics. (Angie Harmon in baseball shorts flirting angrily with Donnie Wahlberg…this is why we watch television.) Unfortunately, about two minutes into the episode, somebody dropped a corpse onto the field…and instantly, everything went downhill. This is one of those quirky crime shows where everything is very enjoyable, except for the 95 percent of the episode that’s actually about crime.
There’s a whole lot of Bones-envy here: people flirt over dead bodies, exchange mock-witty repartee in the middle of crime scenes, and generally talk like they’re living in a sitcom that very occasionally features gunshots. Thing is, Bones slowly turned into a romantic comedy after starting out serious. It’s hard to hit whimsy right out of the gate.
Also not helping matters: the Boston of Rizzoli & Isles is perhaps the most inauthentic portrayal of Boston ever. The few actors who actually attempt an accent fall victim to the Chris Nashawaty Theory of Baaahhhston Accents. This wouldn’t be so noticeable if the show didn’t keep throwing Bostonia in your face: last night’s plot centered on the Boston Strangler, with some throwaway references to Paul Revere. Also, everyone is Irish, and every case requires five visits to an Irish pub. Dennis Lehane this ain’t.
There are some fun little bits of Rizzoli & Isles that make me want to check back on the show once it’s had some time to grow. (Like this throaway: “That’s the first problem. His mom named him Sandy.”) But I’m skeptical, because the two biggest problems with the show are right the title. Sasha Alexander’s Isles seems like a market-tested version of a nerd – as my girlfriend pointed out, “If she’s such an antisocial dork who hates living people, how come she loves shoe-shopping?” Most disappointing of all, Rizzoli has none of the qualities we usually associate with Angie Harmon: she’s spastic and quirky where Abbie Carmichael was titanium-tough. The actress gesticulates wildly with every line of dialogue; I’m guessing that she’s aiming for “tomboy,” but she’s coming up with “personification of ‘needs Ritalin.'”
What do you think of Rizzoli & Isles, PopWatchers? Would the show be better if Jill Hennessy were playing Isles? And now that Law & Order is over, can we all admit that despite all the hubbub over the various detectives, the real stars were always the Stern-Sexy Lady ADAs? If Angie Harmon is the Beatles, and Jill Hennessy is Elvis, then what does that make Alana de la Garza? The Clash?