TNT’s Murder in the First began its third season last night (Sunday June 26th). The seasonal opener was supposed to have aired the previous Sunday, but due to the mass-shootings in Orlando, the network wisely pushed the start date to this weekend. ****SPOILERS AHEAD****
The opening sequence ran about 6 minutes, and was crammed with the introductions to two separate story lines. Then as the credits rolled, we got two more story lines. A bit too cramped for my taste, especially so since at least two of the story lines have zero bearing on the true subject matter of the series which is, murder in the first degree.
The two leads are Detective Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Detective Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson). It is a no-brainer to have them appear on the series poster for this the third season. But I think the poster is poorly executed. That said, the first character of the series that we meet in this episode is DA Mario Siletti.
It is a birthday party for Mario. He’s just turned 50. And within seconds, he, with his wife sitting right next to him, is strongly eyeing a pretty blonde, ADA Melissa Danson played by Amanda Schull . In full view of the whole table, they are are making eyes at each other. Seconds later, a colleague of Mr. Silletti has risen to her feet and is making a toast. The camera pans over to show us that the Danson’s seat is now vacant.
Mario gets a text message on his phone. I’m in the lobby is what he reads. Then he excuses himself telling his wife he has to make a call.
Moments later, after a brief flirtation, Danson unzips the front of her dress and heads into the Ladies Room. Mario follows.
We then pan to another Ladies Room where a slinky blonde in pink is doing a line of Coke.
This, as it turns out is another birthday party – this time for Normandy Parker, who is the top quarterback in the NFL.
As the blonde sings a Monroe-esque version of the Happy Birthday song, a man in a dark hoodie comes up from behind Parker and then puts two rounds into his head. In the ensuing chaos, the shooter is able to flee the party.
There’s your opening. I never really much cared for Mario Siletti as the ADA then DA. In season one, the trial of murderer Erich Blunt, I thought Siletti made some egregious errors. The actor who has the role of Siletti, one Currie Graham does an effective job in his portrayal. But the character is hard to like. We are tasked with watching Siletti and his wife discuss his infidelities, or hear the Siletti family work through their problems with their son Michael, who is soon to be off to college in Corvallis, Oregon, but it is not all that interesting.
At the Mulligan home front, Hildy is having issues with her 11-year-old daughter Louise who resents that Hildy, her Mom, went through her bag and found something objectionable. So when Hildy gets the call from English to meet him at the scene of the quarterback’s murder, Hildy isn’t at the place where she should be – that is to say – focused on her job.
But wait there’s more – the Silettis are driving home from his birthday party. His wife thinks (or knows) that Siletti is fooling around. They argue, and BANG!, the Siletti car hits a woman, who dies immediately. Is it a DUI plus vehicular manslaughter – we will have to wait and see.
Series creators Stephen Bochco and Eric Lodal have front loaded this season with plenty of melodrama. Just when you thought that – okay, the stories are in motion. Let’s get down to some police work, we are greeted with another issue.
Hildy gets a call from her doctor. The doctor asks Hildy to come in right away. The doctor has the results of the biopsy. It’s breast cancer for Hildy. The doctor says, Get your affairs in order.
I’d suggest that Murder in the First works best when the cops are investigating a murder, or chasing down suspects. The side stories – marital infidelity, sickness, or trouble raising the kids, are merely distractions.
Yes, they round the characters to a degree, but why call the show Murder in the First if you present it as a family drama connected to an investigative drama.
Then again, it is Bochco and don’t we all remember the success of Hill Street Blues with its gritty and realistic look at the life of cops both on the street, in the police station, as well their own bedrooms. But Hill Street, which aired 1981-1987, is what we watched 30 years ago. I’m not sure this formula works today.
Then again, you may feel differently.
For the record, in my post abut the closing episode (actually it was almost a seasonal review rather than a single episode review, I stated that I thought that TNT would NOT renew MITF for a third season. I also stated that I thought that TNT’s Public Morals series with Ed Burns and Michael Rappaport would be renewed.
Definitely I was wrong about MITF’s third season, and I’ve no idea if Public Morals will show up in the late summer or next February. Stay tuned.
In any event here is the Murder in the First Season Three trailer –