Pilot: “Backstrom”

imageSome pilot episodes you know are the ones to just stay away from. Why? For so many reasons. Mainly, you know you have no intentions of seeing it beyond that one episode that, let’s face it, you forced yourself to see, so why see it? A bit curiosity. Mostly, for the masses. To hopefully squash other people’s desires to sit through some new god awful show.

The 20th Century Fox Television series “Backstrom, hopefully gets cancelled really soon. But, it’s Fox. They’re desperate. They’ll take anything.

This comedy-drama crime series stars Rain Wilson (“Adventure Time”, “Cooties”), Genevieve Angelson (“House of Lies”, “The Good Wife”),, Kristoffer Polaha (“Atlas Shrugged: Part III”, “Back in the Day”), Page Kennedy (“Bad Teacher (2014 TV series)”, “Legit”), Beatrice Rosen (“Taxi Brooklyn”, “Ask Me Anything”), and Dennis Haysbert (“Sniper: Legacy”, “”Men, Women & Children”).

The series was created by Hart Hanson (“The Finder”, “Bones”). It is based on the series of novels by Leif G.W. Persson.

The series debuted on Jan. 22, 2015 on Fox.

As you can no doubt tell, I hate this episode. Okay, the show too. I was mainly doing it to see if my feelings, solely based on the trailer and TV spots, were correct. They were. I’d only heard a small bit from the Washington Post on it, but that’s because my mother was reading it. I have yet to find the review or any others to see how critics truly feel. That will be next on my to-do list.

So, to start, I’m saddened by the people that are in this series. Well, except for Wilson. It’s not really that surprising that he’s playing this particular character. He did for nine years on “The Office”. I can’t begin to fathom what would make Fox want to do this show. They saw the pilot, or so I hope.

Wilson’s character is an obnoxious asshole. There, I said it. And he’s gross. It took less than two minutes into the episode to see that he’s already unlikeable. He’s unlikeable in a way that’s not redeemable, something that will grow on you, or tolerable. I regret my choice to just watch the pilot. As the episode progressed I learned not only will I, or anyone, most likely, ever like him, but that his attitude wasn’t so much misanthropic, but more just because he’s an asshole. In this case, I like that word. It best describes him. This “character” trait, one isn’t new, especially since Dr. House did it so much better starting in 2004, and second is also going to get annoying and tiresome really fast. Hell, before this episode even finished I was already over it. For a show that largely features Wilson’s Backstrom character, as is expected from a show with the characters last name as its title, you’d think the creator would do a better job at convincing me, or anyone, that this show’s character was worth watching in any capacity. He’s not. He’s irritating and has so much unfunny, not so clever, negativity that it makes this particular act not very cute. Fortunately, there are other characters to care about. I think…

Okay, so there aren’t. The only slightly likable character is Angelson’s Detective Gravely, but she spends all her time trying to keep her extreme dislike of Backstrom in check. That and, as the trailer suggests, she’ll spend a lot of time, more than the other characters, correcting any mistakes that Backstrom makes. Then, as with Kennedy’s character, you have all the laws and rules, ethical ones too, that just get chucked out because of bad choices (more like really stupid ones with bad reasoning), to put up with. If I was even beginning to like her, which I’m not sure I was, that went out the window when she got Backstrom to help falsify evidence to reflect what she wanted to be real, in a complaint lodged against her. Oy. Things only get worse.

As I’m on a roll with rules and laws being broken, I find it appropriate to begin another section. It really only helped to solidify why I won’t be watching anymore of it, and regret seeing the pilot. So, in the scene where Backstrom and Gravely go to the bar to interview someone, they don’t end up just doing that. Gravely does, but not Backstrom, which is, I guess, supposed to be another characteristic of his that makes him him, but really is another mark against him. He’s drinking alcohol. Last I checked, he was on duty. If so, how and why is he drinking on the job? I guess he’s supposed to come off as someone that doesn’t really care for procedures, laws or ethics. It’s the same reason I stopped watching “The Office”. Stupidity and a complete lack of realism. I’m not asking for much.

As a bonus, in this same encounter, there’s police brutality. Nothing like smashing a person’s face into a wall, but harsh and unneeded. Gravely basically dislocates the suspects, or person of interest, finger. No real cause. This leads to the previously mentioned complaint and distorting of the truth to save her job. Ugh. But, hey! this makes sense. They’re okay with excessive force, what’s a little perjury between friends?

Then, to wrap it all up with a nice bow, there’s more at the end. Backstrom is chasing a suspect and the suspect has a gun. The gun eventually leaves the suspect’s hands and is laying on the ground. Not close to him. Pretty far. Far enough where Backstrom shooting the suspect is wrong. Kennedy’s character see’s this, but instead of doing the right thing, agrees to help alter what really happened and let Backstrom keep his job. What? Really? I guess this is also meant to serve as a way to provide suspense or drama. If he’s done it once, what will happen next? Will he get caught? I don’t care. I’m done watching this forever.

A final note on characters. I’ll be brief. Polaha’s character is irritating. Again, the writer is aiming for some kind of quirky character that does something. I’m not even sure and I watched the episode. Haysbert, it’s sad, just really stands around. I can’t figure out why he’s there. Wasted talent. I’ll be looking forward to him in Allstate commercials.

I’m going to add this now, just because I feel like weighing it down with more negative points, and it’s kind of like my leftover thoughts section. I felt that the entire time I heard people talk, the writer was trying to be clever in a way that was funny. It didn’t help or work. It wasn’t clever. It certainly wasn’t funny. Which, for a comedy-drama, was sorely lacking. I didn’t even chuckle. Again, keep in mind that I went in with a pretty strong opinion already formed on this show. Then, there’s the issue I take with the score. It didn’t dawn on me until some scene, but it just got annoying. It wasn’t good music either. Another way they’re trying to make this show some kind of offbeat cop show. And lastly, what’s with the “S” in the title being colored red? What purpose does it serve? There was no reference to the color or even some significance to the letter, so why? They probably thought it looked cool. It didn’t.

Finally, I can end this. It was as bad as I expected, however, I’m sure my already formed opinions got in the way more than usual. I’m okay with that. When you get past the wannabe quirky characters, this is still just a police procedural. We really didn’t need another one. I certainly didn’t. So, I’m good with not watching this. I can’t even tell you what the mystery was about. I didn’t care about that either. Usually I do.


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