Review: King & Maxwell 1×1 (TNT)

This summer's winner of the "Most Insipid Procedural" award

King and Maxwell

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, TNT

Bugger originality. Bugger quality. What the viewing public really want from TNT is yet another show with an ampersand in the middle.

Yes, fresh from having cancelled the superb Southland, TNT just about calls it quits for quality TV with yet another show about two semi-quirky crime investigators. Fitting in nicely with the equally mediocre Rizzoli & Isles and Franklin & Bash, King & Maxwell is a procedural so bland, your parents and your parent’s parents will love it. It harkens back to the time when private investigators ruled the airwaves and everyone had to guess “Will they? Won’t they?” when a show had a female and male lead bantering in a way that was borderline sexual harassment.

It stars Rebecca Romjin (Pepper Dennis, Eastwick) as hardbitten former secret service agent Michelle Maxwell and Jon Tenney (The Closer) as hardbitten former secret service agent Sean King. They weren’t in the secret service together, mind, but they work together now as private investigators, using their secret service skills and irritating banter to solve crimes those straight-laced, play-by-the-book FBI agents just can’t handle.

And when you watch it, as well as feeling you’re back in the 80s, right down to the terrible incidental music, you’ll wonder if it’s actually possible for writers to deliver scripts in their sleep or whether someone, probably Google, has actually developed software to automatically generate TV dialogue.

Here’s a trailer. Try not to fall asleep, too – or to stab your monitor to make it stop.

In TNT’s brand new scripted drama, King & Maxwell, Jon Tenney (The Closer) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) play private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, characters originally seen in the bestselling series of books by author David Baldacci, and developed for series by NCIS: Los Angeles creator, Shane Brennan.

Sean King (Tenney) and Michelle Maxwell (Romijn) aren’t your typical private investigators. Both are former Secret Service agents, and their unique skills – not to mention their razor-sharp chemistry – give them a leg up on conventional law enforcement. Maxwell is a former elite athlete who uses her brains, beauty and Beltway connections to solve cases. King’s career in the Secret Service ended when the presidential candidate he was assigned to protect was assassinated, sending him on a downward spiral. Today, King has added a law degree to his arsenal of skills, allowing him to navigate the system in ways a typical private investigator never could. Along the way, King and Maxwell clash over everything, from her garbage-strewn car to his love of wine over beer.

King & Maxwell also stars Michael O’Keefe (Michael Clayton) and Chris Butler (The Good Wife) as F.B.I. Special Agents Rigby and Carter, who clash with King and Maxwell over their less-than-legal methods. In addition, Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy, TNT’s Wanted) stars as Edgar Roy.

King & Maxwell is being produced by CBS Television Studios, in association with Shane Brennan Productions. Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles), who developed the series and penned the pilot, serves as Executive Producer, alongside Grant Anderson (Third Watch) and Chris Downey (Leverage.) Karen Spiegel (Absolute Power) serves as producer and David Baldacci as series consultant.

Is it any good?
If I’d had anything else to read, do or watch while I was on my train journey yesterday, I’d never have made it to the end of this, it’s so cataclysmically insipid.

The plot is unremarkable. The set-up is unremarkable. The acting is dreadful, particularly Romijn’s. The dialogue takes turns between being absolutely predictable, ridiculous plot-dumps and being so cringe-inducingly bad, the closed caption subtitles probably read “THIS FORCED, UNNATURAL DIALOGUE IS HERE TO SUGGEST A PLAYFUL YET PROFESSIONAL SEXUAL TENSION. THEY ARE BOTH FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES… BUT MAYBE SOMETHING MORE.”

It’s comfort TV. It’s there because there’s an hour-shaped hole in the Monday night schedule and you can’t put Rizzoli & Isles on all the time. Unless you can’t afford a DVD of a fish swimming in a tank, there are better things you could have as background wallpaper to your life.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.