Review: The Line 1×1

The Line

In Canada: Mondays, 10pm, Movie Central/The Movie Network

Imagine The Wire. Better still, watch The Wire on DVD or if you’re in the UK, on BBC2 starting Monday at 11.20pm.

Now imagine The Wire set in Canada. Now imagine The Wire set in Canada and intended as slightly comedic. Now imagine The Wire set in Canada, intended as slightly comedic and written by ham-fisted idiots.

Mental picture complete? Well, you’ve now got The Line.

Plot
No heroes or villains – only cops, criminals and everyone in between.

At the centre of The Line are two cops who are as morally ambiguous as the criminals they pursue. Max has lost interest in conventional police work and has developed his own methods for dealing with the criminals he seems hell-bent on destroying. Donny has been almost completely torn apart by the job, yet seems dementedly optimistic in the face of his crumbling life. Their paths intertwine with Carlos, a mid-level drug dealer with an anxiety problem who is caught between warring drug suppliers and a wife who wants nothing to do with him. In Carlos Max sees an opportunity to sabotage the criminal underpinning of the entire neighbourhood.

Set in a suburban wasteland that could border any city, The Line is a multi-layered story woven around a group of fully human characters.

The Line stars Ron White (Unforgiven, Trudeau) as Max and Daniel Kash (The Good Shepherd) as Donny. Cle Bennet (How She Move) is Carlos. Wes Williams, Von Flores, Sarah Manninen round out the cast. Linda Hamilton (The Terminator), Ed Asner (Elf) and Sharon Lawrence also appear.

Is it any good?
No. In fact, it’s pretty painful to watch.

It tries ever so hard to be gritty.

Ever so hard.

It tries ever so hard to show the crappy life of being a low level drugs dealer.

Ever so hard.

It tries ever so hard to show the crappy life of being a narcotics cop.

Ever so hard.

And because people tend to get a black sense of humour in these situations, it tries ever so hard to have a black sense of humour.

Ever so hard.

But it’s so bad at it.

About 50% of the dialogue is pure plot exposition; the other 50% is lame, knowing cop jokes or pointless bits of slapstick and drug dealer stupidity.

There are entire characters (the female lawyer having an affair with the cop whose partner’s family have moved in with her because he’s a dick) who only speak in ‘plot dump’, who spend all their time explaining their tragic plot relevance and what they feel about society at large.

The plot moves slowly; any attempts to have realism through the hiring of not especially well known actors is neutralised by having US guest stare like Linda Hamilton and Ed Asner; it doesn’t say anything, it doesn’t have any style; it’s derivative.

This is not Intelligence unleashed: this is Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace meets The Wire. Avoid.

Here’s a YouTube trailer so you can see its derivativeness. I think they even use the same typeface as The Wire.

  • Marie

    Judging by the conversations I’ve been having over the last few months, Wire-mania is sweeping Britain. So why put it on at 11.20 pm? Is it because everybody has already seen it? In which case, why put it on at all? Word. True ‘dat.

  • MediumRob

    “Judging by the conversations I’ve been having over the last few months, Wire-mania is sweeping Britain. So why put it on at 11.20 pm? Is it because everybody has already seen it? In which case, why put it on at all? Word. True ‘dat.”
    BBC2 scheduling laws. There’s no way you can put The Wire before the watershed so it has to be post 9pm. Newsnight has (apparently) to be on at 10.30pm and finish at 11.15pm for the weather. So that just leaves sticking The Wire on at 9pm or 9.30pm or at 11.20pm.
    The show’s 60 episodes long so if they showed it weekly, it would take about a year and a quarter to air (taking breaks for Christmas, etc), which is one option, but they’ve gambled on stripping it instead. But if they showed it at 9pm or 9.30pm, they’d have to get rid of their entire 9pm programming for 12 weeks, which given the show’s ratings on FX isn’t really justifiable and would seriously hack off viewers of the regular 9pm programmes.
    So that leaves 11.20pm.
    If they’d just shown it as it aired in the US, rather than waiting to the end, that wouldn’t have the problem. But BBC2’s been treading water for ages (more or less since the departure of Jane Root, but probably since before then) and it’s only been the arrival of Janice Hadlow (who made BBC4 good before abandoning it and leaving it to turn rubbish again) as BBC2 programming tsar that’s made showing The Wire possible.

  • Marie

    Good answer!

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