First Impresssions: K-Ville

I really, really wanted to love K-Ville. As someone who has spent many vacations down in New Orleans, I’d love to have a New Orleans fix once a week, especially one that’s actually shot in the city. I can play guess that location and the city of New Orleans would reap the badly needed economic benefit of a big-money network TV series shooting on location in the city. A win-win.

Well, maybe not so much for the Nola tourism. This gritty crime drama won’t do much to improve the city’s image as a safe, pleasant place to vacation. The pilot episode alone had a hail of machine gun fire in Jackson Square, a point blank murder in the French Quarter, and a cop car destroyed by a bomb. Welcome to New Orleans!

Based on Monday night’s episode, the location shooting looks great, taking advantage of a wide variety of interesting locales. The acting is as strong as the visual style. I liked main character Marlin Boulet (Anthony Anderson), a New Orleans cop wrestling with keeping his family and his ninth ward neighborhood intact in a a messed-up post-Katrina New Orleans.

Unfortunately, the plot is straight from the generic cop show play-book: mismatched partners who initially don’t get along–one an unorthodox, bourbon drinking cop who’s barely able to keep from going postal, the other a bit of a mystery man with a secret in his past; their boss is understanding but prone to yelling; and the crime they solve is neatly wrapped up in sixty minutes or less.

The crime, triggered by gunfire directed at two ninth ward fund-raisers, is too sprawling and over-the-top to be contained believably in one episode. It’s the sort of case that would have made a great season-long story arc, with a lot more complexity thrown in to challenge characters and viewers alike. What we get instead is connect-the-dots episode with one clue following another, lots of kinetic editing and two obligatory high-speed chases. The episode became increasingly ridiculous, ending in a helicopter sequence that weakly borrowed from a B-grade action movie. The whole show was trying way too hard.

And another thing–who the heck calls New Orleans K-Ville? It took me forever to figure that the ‘K’ might stand for Katrina but I’ve never heard the city referred to in this way.

I’ll give the show a couple more episodes before I bail. In coming weeks the plot will hopefully take on more complexity. The ability to focus a much needed spotlight on New Orleans every week wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Added note: My thoughts on episode two.

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