Lincoln Heights's third episode has come into view after plodding over some sort of hill – some would argue it's more of a 'height' – so time to pass verdict.
After a vaguely promising opening episode, the quality has dropped slightly as standard plots have been retrofitted to the particular peculiar set-up of the show. Much like its theme tune, which if it weren't topped by its own 80s-style incidental music would arguably be the worst piece of music anyone has ever been paid to write (“I want it urban and gritty for 15 seconds, but I want it R&B and smooth for the next 15 seconds so it won't put off teenage girls.” You can almost hear Ross Geller telling them how to transition between the two with “Bu dum bu dum bu dum”), it's an uneasy blend of two genres: crime and teen soap. It plunders both for all the clichés it can find, with almost nothing unpredictable or unexpected happening at any point. None of the characters is remotely plausible, none of the characters talk like normal people, and everything exists to serve up a moral at the end of it. And with every drug dealer and gang member now knowing where the cop and his family live, how are they all still alive?
But through some bizarre form of holistic synthesis, it all seems a lot better than the sum of its parts. Although we've seen it all before, we've never seen it in the precise combinations we have here. Plus it's aimed at family audiences: it's very rare to see anything like the guts on display here when the dreaded Doom Cloud of Family is hanging overhead.
So The Carusometer, recalibrated using a chunk of purest chocolate biscuit made by the mice of Bagpuss's shop, finds that Lincoln Heights is actually a lot better than I've suggested. If you're an adult, this is a 4 on The Carusometer and should be avoided. But for its intended audience – families and teenagers –
The Medium is Not Enough has declared Lincoln Heights to be a two or “Partial Caruso” on The Childrens' Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Caruso on The Childrens' Carusometer corresponds to a show in which David Caruso is forced to play a cameo role as Santa Claus, a rictus grin on his face, thanks to a screw up with his contract. The sound of shrieking infants will drown out all his lines and everyone will come away feeling just a bit fuller of the Christmas spirit than before as a result.
PS The latest episode of Lincoln Heights had a trailer for Smallville at the end, since that show's being repeated on ABC Family. The voice over said “Lust will destroy them”. Can you see where this network's coming from?