In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, NBC
In France: TF1. No air date yet
Time to appraise the first three episodes of Crossing Lines, NBC and TF1's bold attempt to make a eurocop thriller that doesn't totally suck. Created by one of the showrunners of Criminal Minds, Crossing Lines sees William Fichtner's physically challenged, burned out former New York cop for no good reason other than international co-production funding join forces with a group of European cops at the ICC in investigating cross-border crimes that manage to evade national police forces in Europe.
As we saw from the first episode, some of these cops can act, some of these cops can't; Donald Sutherland is in the show as well, for no very good reason; and largely the show is a mass of dramatic clichés, but strangely capable of at least some local sensibilities and occasional surprises.
Episode two saw a retreat from cliché in favour of extreme boredom, with a very chatty episode involving a bit of art theft, some dodgy science and a lot of moping. The show shifted from everyone speaking their native languages where necessary to everyone, even incidental characters, speaking English without prior bidding and in the most improbable of situations. We did, also, get the first hints at a continuing story arc involving a shady Russian - who's not yet been seen, only intimated at.
Episode three, which judging from some of the story set-up might well have been episode two once upon a time, was a markedly improved affair that gave the German character some much needed characterisation that was remarkably stereotype-free. Fichtner wasn't the be-all and end-all of investigation, and everyone managed to have something to do, even if some of them weren't up to the job (cough, cough, the Italian cop, cough, cough). But it did also continue the show's reality gap issues, with a cross-border, trucker fight club that would almost certainly have made any viewer roll their eyes in disbelief.
The show is silly. That aspect can't be avoided. But it does present a largely stereotype-free view of Europeans that is refreshing compared to the usual US TV depictions. I really want to like it, as a result, but the plots are the usual insult to rational thought that you'd expect from Criminal Minds et al. I'm hoping, given time, it can mine the numerous genuine cross-border problems Europe has for some stories that don't insult the viewer. But I don't have a huge amount of hope.
Barrometer rating: 4
Rob's prediction: Will be lucky to last a season