Review: The Line 1×1

How not to do The Wire

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.

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.