Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on December 30, 2011

17th Precinct was a supernatural procedural pilot that never got picked up. It was written by Ron Moore and featured a lot of Battlestar actors, which is kinda what made me curious. It apparently appeared online months ago, but I had no idea, and just watched it recently. You can see it here unless it gets taken down. The basic premise is that not only does magic exist, its existence meant we never really bothered with science. Though everyday life is basically the same, all our stuff works by magic rather than by machines and stuff. It turns out the ending did set up a nice overall plot for what the series would have been (which, I don’t know if it was intended this way, but is kind of awesomely secular humanist), but unless they figured out a better method for the case of the week, it would be rough to sit through, for three basic reasons:

  1. The pilot opens with a narration explaining the whole “magic instead of science” premise. This would be fine for subsequent episodes, but what would actually make for a good pilot would be a “show, don’t tell” approach. Have Apollo or Baltar wake up and go about his morning routine, showing how similar it is to real life, but using lots of magic shit to introduce the audience to the idea. Even with the narration, I never had a real sense of how things worked. This is a great kind of concept for a POV character, but the pilot doesn’t really provide that.
  2. It wasn’t a very good case of the week to start with. Aside from using magic, everything followed the basic rules of every other cop show. But the list of suspects was fairly short, the twist wasn’t all that exciting, and without a better introduction to the rules of magic, the forensic exposition parts were 30 seconds of magical gibberish followed by a conclusion.
  3. The cast was mostly good (Apollo and Baltar are homicide detectives, Six is a police necromancer, Eamonn Walker and Esai Morales are higher ups), but they cast Stockard Channing as the veteran cop who’s seen it all. She’s 67 years old. And looks it. Call me sexist (because I am), but I can buy old men like Jerry Orbach or Clint Eastwood (10 years ago) as old guy cops, but old women cops? I mean they’re giving up 50+ pounds to their male colleagues already, but at that age they have bone density problems on top of that. The danger of a broken hip when she kicks a door down is very real. There are lots of 50s-ish women I would completely buy in that part (for some reason Sharon Stone and Bebe Neuwirth are the two people who popped into my head, possibly because they both did Law & Orders for a little), Stockard Channing just kinda ruined it for me.

Much smaller problem: why use the House theme song prominently in the beginning? I know it’s just some Massive Attack song, but I hear it and only think of house House, and it’s a popular and long running show so I assume that’s the case for most TV viewers. Or maybe it was just a temp track and they were planning on changing it before airing it. I dunno.


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