September 21, 2006

TV Review: Smith "Pilot"

Not sure if I am going to like this show. It does have a lot going for it, including a cast headed up by Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen, and then the supporting cast including Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, and Franky G. It has high production values, giving the show a slick, film-like look. It also has an interesting premise of a master criminal who also holds a day job.

After watching the pilot episode I was left feeling a little cold. Sure, the pilot episode of any series needs to introduce your players and move the pieces into position, but there could have been a little warmth to it. I did not feel any sort of connection to the characters, and did not feel that desire to see what happens next.

Perhaps I should back up a little bit. The show opens with Liotta is master thief Bobby Stevens, leading his team in a daring heist of a museum, with the target being a few pieces of art. At first everything goes smooth, the guards are quickly taken out of the game, and the team goes to work getting the art cut out of the frames. However, they forget about one of the guards who gets the drop on them, and as a standoff takes shape, we jump back in time.

The rest of the episode focuses on the buildup to the art heist. We meet Bobby's wife, Hope (Virginia Madsen), and their kids. We also get to see Bobby go to his day job as some sort of salesman, of cups I believe. Then Bobby gets the call and he gets in touch with his team, that seems to have scattered to the winds since their prior job. All of them get their introductions, but none of them really struck a chord, outside of recognizing the actors. So, as the team all meet up at the proper location, we get a little better look at Hope. It turns out that she is a recovering drug addict, still going to her meetings. That's pretty much all we get from her, well, that and a few glances which I could not figure out, but could indicate she knows what he does, or at least suspects.

Anyway, back to where we started. Liotta leads his team, in plastic white masks, into the museum, the guard catches them, standoff goes bad, shots are fired, team frantically escapes out the back. Nothing terribly unexpected.

Yeah, I know this could have been a better recap, but I can't help but hope that the show gets better. I am going to give it another week or two, but I truly hope it gets better.

The concept is interesting, but I feel the execution could have been better. I look at the scene of Bobby at his day job, and it is eminently clear that his boss knows exactly what he is. How is that interesting? I would have rather see him trying to balance his day job with his thieving extracurriculars. That would have been much more interesting. Then there is his wife, Hope, hmmm, I wonder if the name has any alternate meaning? I do like the recovering addict aspect, that could lead to some interesting stories with her struggles with sobriety competing with the stress of being married to a criminal.

The cast has the ability to make this interesting, but is the creative team up to the task? This episode just did not draw me in. None of the characters seemed all that sympathetic. Of course, having likable characters is not an absolute requirement, but I just didn’t feel anything. The writing lacked depth, it had the action and the setup, but little else. I know they can’t give us everything in the pilot, but having so little really seems to put them at a disadvantage going forward. The worm is wriggling off the hook and the fish may just get away. They need to reset the bait and cast again, hopefully something will bite.

Time will tell.

One last thing, it sure did get dark quick as they were escaping the museum.


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