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New television dramas are strong out of the gate

By Rob Hedelt, The Free Lance-Star

IT’S good news when there’s a really interesting drama amidst the new fall television offerings.

  To have three good ones kick off—CBS’s “Vegas,” ABC’s “The Last Resort” and CBS’s “Elementary”—was a welcome surprise. 

 They all have their own appeal, but “Elementary”—a modern-day envisioning of the Sherlock Holmes tale—will probably draw the most viewers because it’s basically a procedural show.

 It benefits from a team that includes a former addict, Holmes (Jonny cqLee Miller), his assistant (Lucy Liu) and the police captain who believes in them (Aidan Quinn).

  Toss in a crime each week and Holmes will do his thing, deducing things from a crime scene that mere mortals will have trouble spotting.

  Miller is interesting as Holmes, making him a focused but constantly agitated soul, seemingly using the investigations as a tool to escape his inner demons.

  One slight problem is that with his British accent and fast-paced dialogue, it’s sometimes hard to understand what Miller is saying, especially if he’s in a crowd.

  Liu is her typically solid self, the straight woman, so to speak, to the inspired crime solver.  She brings smarts, beauty and levity to a show that needs it.

  And Quinn hits just the right mark as the captain who believes in Holmes but knows he can be a problem.

  BETTING ON CONTRAST

  Watching “Vegas,” you know things are going to be OK from the moment Dennis Quaid comes riding across the Nevada landscape on his horse, rounding up his herd.

  That they scatter at the sound of an approaching passenger plane sets up the series’ conflict: ranchers who live near Vegas vs. the changing casino city.

  The show is best when it’s highlighting those conflicts, especially shifting from desert to  burgeoning Vegas Strip.  Ditto for the juxtaposition and friction between the newly drafted sheriff (Quaid) and the newly arrived organized crime casino chief (Michael Chiklis.)

  It’s almost a shame that it morphs eventually into a crime procedural show, with the fascinating contrast of the two worlds getting lost at times in the nuts and bolts of  investigations.

  In the pilot, Quaid is drafted to serve as sheriff and begins investigating the murder of a young casino worker.

  That will continue, with the new sheriff getting help from his brother (Jason O’Mara) and a longtime friend and assistant prosecutor (Carrie–Anne Moss.)

  There’s enough conflict to go around: the sheriff vs. crime boss;  honest assistant prosecutor vs. crooked boss and ranchers’ world vs. land-hungry Vegas.

  In the opener O’Mara and Moss were smooth and believable, Chiklis was smooth and scary. But this is Quaid’s show and he’s up to the challenge. It was really cool to see him riding down The Vegas Strip on his horse to smack a nasty biker with his Winchester.

  Bet on this one to be around a while.

  MISSILES FLYING

  Perhaps the most intriguing show of the season is “Last Resort,” a tale of what happens when a nuclear submarine is ordered by leaders of a politically conflicted U.S. to unleash nuclear missiles on Pakistan.

  Because those orders come through a back channel, the sub’s commander (Andre Braugher) demands backup confirmation, something his second in command (Scott Speedman) initially supports.

  Before you know it, sketchy U.S. leaders send a missile after the sub and two nuclear missiles into Pakistan.

  With the crew split on ignoring the initial orders and what to do next, the sub’s commander and exec eventually head to an nearby island. With the threat of firing back, the commander declares it independent territory.

  The pilot was perhaps the best to come along in some time, with action non-stop and performance spot on.

  A strong supporting cast includes Robert Patrick, Bruce Davison and others, and the situation of having a country fire on its own sub creates intrigue that ripples from the island back to Washington.

  The challenge: How to keep all this going for weeks and weeks without going off the rails?  We’ll see, but the show gets top marks for the way it kicked off.

Rob Hedelt:  540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

WANT TO WATCH?

What: “Elementary”

When: Thursdays, 10 p.m.

Where: CBS

What: “Vegas”

When: Tuesdays, 10 p.m.

Where: CBS

What: “Last Resort”

When: Thursdays, 8 p.m.

Where: ABC

 

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/features/2012/09/28/new-television-dramas-are-strong-out-of-the-gate/