Murder in the First: Season Two Begins

Murder In the First opened its Second Season on TNT last night.

*****SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*****

Lieutenant Koto (Ian Anthony Dain) is back as the Supervisor for Homicide Detectives Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson). Also returning are some of the other detectives. There are multiple newcomers this season which would be the natural outcome of a new crime and a new case; among the new cast members are Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan in Entourage) as Raffi Veracruz,

who is a plain clothes detective in the Gang Unit (according to Chriqui) who is on hand for English and Mulligan’s cases. Laila Robbins who played the Ambassador in the most recent season of Homeland is also in the series this year, but she didn’t appear in this first episode that was called Twenty-Fifteen.

As you know, this is a police procedural show with a single case arching over the season. So Twenty Fifteen began with a school bus filled with high schoolers. And before you can say ‘filled with high schoolers’ twice, one guy takes out a gun and shoots one student. Then a second student brings out an automatic weapon and the bus explodes in gunfire. There’s your opening.

While the idea of mass killings by students seems like it is ripped from the news headlines, this opening episode was quite less than scintillating. Probably this is due to the fact that though the police got one of the shooters – as Detective English would later say – Shooter 2 is in the wind.

And he got away because of the multiple smoke canisters that the perps released – the day was wind free and he managed to get away in the chaos – despite the fact that the police had cordoned off the area before either of the shooters had even gotten off the bus. That seemed somewhat far-fetched to me.

But then again, having one shooter in custody – he was shot and is currently under heavy guard in a hospital, does enable the story to be told, or how the case is pursued, from two different (possibly) perspectives – the fugitive in flight, and the fugitive in custody.

Via a still photo gleaned from a taxi’s in-board video system, the police learned that Shooter Two had taken the taxi to an indoor concert at a specific rave club. Quickly they infiltrate into the club, and the shooter is spotted. Again he makes an escape via the basement and a trap door into a subterranean tunnel system. This scene was indeed fraught with tension.

However it was marred by the over utilization of the vest cameras worn by the cops. You know the kind that has all the shudders and shakes that you get from either handhelds or unmounted cameras. The images from these cameras were transmitted back to either an on-site command vehicle, or base. But the fact is that they were disconcerting at best and useless at worst.

Once Detective English, who had tracked the perp in his attempt to flee again, is hunting down the suspect in the tunnel, the tension and suspense amps up appreciably, which is good. And there was a rather clever unexpected turn of events in the same location.

But for me, and I watched each episode last year (and wrote 9 posts about the show) I was vaguely disappointed. This is not to say that the show lacked strengths, or that I have nothing positive to say. However this was the first episode of Season Two and I did not find it a step forward.

The strengths:

Detectives English and Mulligan. Both Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson are excellent. They command your attention, and are fascinating to watch.

Being on the inside of an investigation and understanding the hurdles and issues involving the lead detectives, is always intriguing if not always new. As a TV series we will have to expect red herrings or in police terms – false leads. As a TV series we will have to expect pressure from press and city hall. And as a TV drama about police we will have to expect that sometime personal issues will bleed into their perceptions and abilities. But these are strengths of the show.

As with the issues inside the investigatory process,  a new case is always intriguing and interesting because we are usually in a discovery mode. However in this opening epsiode, the coin is turned as we know who the perpetrators are – which leads me to believe that this season will be less about them and more about the workings of the police and justice systems. But we shall have to wait on that.

The on-location scenes on the Streets of San Francisco are wonderful to me.

The Weaknesses:

Carrying over the same pressures and problems for Mulligan as a single mom with a school-age child as well as a nere-do-well ex husband. While these may be realistic, they really did not advance the story.

The smoke-filled streets which allowed one perp to escape

The jittery hand-held cameras in the rave club as well as the rough and tumble editing.

The early reference to D.A. Perez was not necessary. The simple news item that she had resigned seemed okay – but the joking by Koto’s detectives about Koto finding a new woman did not.

The streets scenes had both Mulligan and English wearing jackets – yet other police wore short sleeves. Again, I am not overly concerned with the vagaries of the weather, or the apparel of the lead detectives – but this did catch my attention.

Best Quotes:

Detective English confronting the perp on the street: On the ground or in your grave…

Perp’s father (played by TV Veteran Spencer Garrett: My son is a sociopath…

Overall: I will be back with further reviews of Murder in the First, and just because I wasn’t enthralled by this episode, this does not mean that I don’t think the show will improve.

What did you think?

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