Murder in the First: Season Three Episode Three – Black and Blue

TNT’s Murder in the First aired its 3rd episode of Season Three last night. And once again series creators and writers Steven Bochco and Eric Lodal gave us a lackluster and misguided episode complete with another god-awful bait and switch.

You know what I mean by the terms bait & switch don’t you? Strictly speaking, bait and switch is primarily a tactic used by advertisers or in a sales offer to lure you to the store or sales site by making an offer that looks too good to resist, then when you show up, either the offer has been discontinued, or they will say the product has sold out – would you be interested in this instead.

In a television series, a bait and switch basically plays out like this – a problem is created for one or more characters in a specific week. Then, the following week, the so-called serious problem is miraculously or quickly (and unexpectedly) solved. So there’s no more problem.

This season, Murder in the First gave us their first bait and switch issue in week one. Detective Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) is told she has breast cancer. Her doctor told her to ‘get her affairs in order’.

Then early in Episode Two, Hildy is contacted by the same doctor. It seems that at the lab, the biopsy tissues got mixed up. You don’t have cancer. It was just a mistake at the lab.


How creative!

Not at all. What we have here is a straight forward manipulation. The intent was to get Detectives English (Taye Diggs) and Mulligan in bed together. Which they did. In a simpler term than manipulation it was just a ‘ploy’.

Then later in episode Two, they get a lead on the location of Billy James, the former friend of the slain quarterback Normandy Parker, who has quickly become a lead suspect.

Mulligan and English and a SWAT team don their Kevlar vests, and saddle up to capture this guy. Of course they knock down the door of an apartment and rush in. English heads down a hall way and hears something in a bedroom. This guy is escaping through a window. English gives chase.

Ultimately, the fleeing suspect runs himself into a dead-end, and is cornered. English sees him reach behind him for a weapon. Before the suspect can get off a shot, English puts 4 bullets in the guy’s chest. He’s dead before he hits the ground.

Only the dead guy had no weapon that the police could find.

Now Terry is in the crosshairs of being a policeman who killed an unarmed man. A story line ripped right from the front pages of today’s newspapers across this land.

Then early in Episode Three, after English had been grilled by I.A. and he told them he saw the gun tucked into the waistband of the man’s pants as he was going out the window. And after Detective Mulligan had lied to the I.A. investigators by saying that she too had seen the weapon. She was lying to back up her partner.

Then, a youngish black woman shows up at police HQ with her 10-year-old son. They hand over a handgun. The boy says he found the gun in the area of the tree mural on the wall of a building. The very place where Detective English had rushed past while in pursuit of the fleeing suspect.

Later, the crime unit forensics tests had found the dead guy’s finger prints on the gun’s magazine.

So case closed. The Police Commissioner told the media that Detective English had been cleared. So, so long to Detective English’s problem and Detective Mulligan’s lie. It was that easy.

Of course there is a kicker. The dead guy wasn’t Billy James after all.

So the story of the investigation of the quarterback’s murder is still ongoing. The quarterback is still dead, and the possible shooter, one Billy James is still in the wind.

Of course, he will be captured and hauled in for questioning by the end of Episode Three. And you do know what that will result in, right?

Of course. While the police lay out all the options to the silent Billy James, like get ahead of the curve and tell us who hired you, and make it easy on yourself – tell us who paid you.

All Billy James would say is – I want a lawyer.

But what really rankles me is the story that just won’t go away. That would be DA Mario Siletti’s DUI and Vehicular homicide case. Siletti remained an asshat well into this, the third episode. First he waited for ADA Melissa Danson in the park where she jogged every day. She said – what are you doing stalking me? Which of course he was doing.

Then Siletti managed to corner the State Attorney General to ask for his help. The State AG listened and then told Siletti the case is in the hands of ADA Danson and you will not be getting any preferential treatment.

Continue reading

Murder in the First: Season 3 Episode 2 – Tropic of Cancer

Half a lifetime ago, in 1964, Bob Dylan wrote, recorded, and performed a song called The Times They Are A-Changin’. Fast forward to tonight July 3rd, and I’m the one singing about The Times They Are A-Wastin’.

That’s because I just watched the second episode of the TNT Series Murder in the First. ***SPOILER WARNING***

So they start off with a stick up at a liquor store which is later described by Detectives Molk and Navarro as located at Geary & Polk.  Well according to the street photos, there is no bodega, convenience store, liquor store, or even a corner newsstand at that intersection. But no matter. This robbery is one in which the perp didn’t even take out his hand gun. He merely showed it, tucked into his waistband, to the guy behind the counter, who calmly took out his own gun and blew the perp away.

There was nothing to this attempted robbery but it served to set up some excellent police work when they reviewed the security cam footage of the inside of store. More on that later.

The second bait and switched involved Detective Hildy Mulligan and indirectly Detective Terry English. Last week we learned that Hildy had been told by her doctor that she had breast cancer. Get your affairs in order was the advice from the doctor.

With that in mind, Terry tells Hildy that he’d like to care for her, watch over her, and simply be there for her because things would get worse. English knew this because his own wife had succumbed to cancer in the first season.

That led to a night of heavy breathing and rumpled sheets at Hildy’s apartment with Hildy and Terry as the players. Louise, Hildy’s daughter had conveniently been granted permission to stay over at a friend’s house for that night. Terry was astounded – On a school night? , he asked.

How convenient!

As for the murder of Normandy Parker, the All-Pro QB, the party had 350+ guests and no one was able to make an ID of the shooter. But the police caught a break. Parker’s gf, the blonde,

Murder in the First -season 3- Trailer TNT[(000063)2016-06-27-18-17-29]

comes in to the police station (with her lawyer) only after the twitter universe exploded with the news that she was being difficult. Also arriving somewhat awkwardly was Parker ex-wife. These two should have never crossed paths in a police hallway.

But the ex-wife had plenty to say – she did have a one-night stand with Parker’ best friend Billy James, and she did know about Parker wanting to re-configure the prenup.

Speaking of Billy James, he was spotted Detective Navarro in the liquor store security cam footage in the liquor store just prior to the failed holdup. And per the security cam footage from the bank across the street, James did not drive away; rather he walked away – meaning he was staying in the nabe.

Again – how convenient.

Then there was a tip that James was staying in apartment in that area. Hildy, Terry and the SWAT team bust in. The guy, possibly James leaps out of a window with Terry in pursuit. After a short pursuit, the guy has run  himself into a dead-end alley. When he reaches for something – English places 4 kill shots dead center into the guy’s chest.

Only it is not Billy James, and what’s more there was no gun found.

English is in hot water. The town is up in arms. Demonstrations all over. Black Lives Matter indeed. As they have been known to do before, the writers then give us another bait and switch. We see English in Koto’s office. Terry is handing over his gun. Has he been suspended pending an investigation? That’s what I first thought about.

Continue reading

Murder in the First: Season 3 -Episode 1- Normandy Bitch

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.

Continue reading

Murder in the First: Number Thirty Nine – Episode 2.12 – Season Finale

Season Two of Murder in the First concluded tonight. This is more of an overview than a review, so If you’ve not watched the closing episode yet – you’d be best served to skip this piece now. However if you have seen it, the read on.

Captain Ernie Knubbins (played by John Cothran) – The Headman – straight out of left field. Maybe it would be better described as straight out of McCovey Cove. Yeah, I was wrong about Koto. But just because I was wrong, doesn’t mean they did a good job.

I mean they dragged it out for so long, right up to having someone stand with his back to us, that would be Officer Leo, before he steps aside to reveal Knubbins.  Even with the SFPD finest detectives on the case, the case was really cracked by the techie, Kami Keefer, played by Camille Balsamo.

Then, in the interview room, with Knubbins giving his ‘hypothetical perspectives’ – are you kidding? Last year’s Warren Daniels would have never permitted it. The sole reason was to ‘explain’ everything to us. If this had been Perry Mason we might have called it a court-room confession. Instead we;ve been asked to settle for an interrogation room non-denial denial.

Dustin Maker got himself a lengthy stretch on San Quentin’s Death Row. As if anybody cared. I’m still kind of pissed about the entire bait and switch aspect of Season Two of Murder in the First. I’m thinking too bad the coppers didn’t take out Maker and Rentman. Right in the first episode.

You start with two high schoolers shooting up a bus filled with their classmates and then that turns into the chum to attract the viewers because the real story has nothing to do with that.

Personally, I sure hope that Maker and his attorney aren’t back with their appeals. Geez – Maker breaks down in tears again? Bochco what were you thinking? He confessed – he said he wanted to die. So why was he crying? And while I like Laila Robins as an actress, her role as an about to be divorced defense attorney was really a non-factor.

Neither Molk, nor Junior, nor Alyssa died. But what happened to Alyssa? I thought I heard that her request for immunity had been granted. Why was that? And even beyond that why does Molk want her. She cached money for the Headman. What did she do, take the money from the safe and make another dead drop? Or if Knubbins had access to her apartment – why would he leave her alive?

Sugar Cascade and Raffi Veracruz. Now that was well concealed despite the clues we got back in Raffi’s apartment weeks ago.. In the finale, there was a brief scene in the coffee shop where Raffi seemed to be struggling with herself. Some song and dance about being true to herself and doing her job. All English could do was to tell her she’s a good cop, and we need you on the job. And from there Sugar and Raffi ended up in Tahiti looking they were were in a Corona beer commercial.

That is after they did a number on we viewers with a different victim, in a white long sleeve tee , similar to what Sugar wore in his last scene in the Cadillac Escalade that ended Episode 11, with this new vic lying facedown in a dumpster. Clearly that was meant to fool us – especially after Fatty B told Andy Chan whether I killed Sugar or not – don’t matter – he ain’t coming back.

Continue reading

TNT’s Murder in the First: Season 2 Episode 11: Down Time – Recap and Analysis

So, are you current with TNT’s Murder in the First? Eleven episodes have been aired, leaving just one, the season finale, remaining.  Episode 11, called Down Time, was decent and solid if not spectacular.


At the jump, continuing from last week’s closing moments – the IA dick Torres emerges from his home and picks up the bag of dead presidents that Alyssa had dropped into his trash bin. Naturally, Terry and Hildy pounce on him. He’s busted and he knows it. What do you want?, he says.

The name of the Headman.

Torres tells them that he can only give them what he can give them. He says he doesn’t want to go to jail, but he can’t give them what he doesn’t know. The key to the whole deal is anonymity. But Junior doesn’t believe him, and launches a few punches at Torres. The best they get out of him is that he’s supposed to make a drop at 9:00 AM next morning at the marina.

My suspicions were correct. Torres is not the Headman of the Union, as there’s no way the Headman receives cash in a bag in a dead drop, in front of his own home. The second dead drop won’t yield the Headman either.

Terry and English might know this, but they have to follow the money. If they want to find out who the Headman is,  they have to capture whoever picks up the bag, and squeeze that person.

Hildy has called in DA Siletti. Siletti marvels about the irony (Torres being dirty) and asks for the ‘top of the pyramid’ name. When Torres says he doesn’t have it, Siletti says he’s not interested in anything else, and stands to leave.

Torres: You’re not interest in a guy that did more than 2 million in graft last year? This is gonna be big. Siletti sits down.

Next morning and Hildy, Terry, Junior, and Koto have the marina staked out. Torres makes the drop. No one shows, until some young twenty something arrives and goes straight to the bag. They bust the kid.

But the kid knows nothing. Koto says he’ll book the kid on the misdemeanor. Torres? – He made a deal with Siletti so says Koto.

Sugar is at the hair salon getting a trim. Fatty B is telling Sugar about how the gang is getting nervous because it looks like Sugar is getting ready to book himself out-of-town. Fatty B wants answers from Sugar. And Sugar sizes up Fatty B. This is the beginning of Fatty B’s move – only he’s not too subtle. Looks like Sugar has sized up Fatty correctly. Of course, this was easy to see coming. It has been obvious for weeks that this is how it would go down.

Molk arrives home to find Alyssa waiting for him. She wants to talk. And she pus a move on Molk. He says – I thought you wanted to talk. Alyssa spins a story of remorse which leads to another night of passion. Followed by a key reveal.

Back downtown, Lawyer Jamie Nelson is talking with her client Dustin Maker.

Continue reading

Murder in the First: 02-10 – Nothing But The Truth

Murder in the First rolled out its 10th episode of the Second Season tonight. They called it Nothing But the Truth. Telling the truth, and nothing but the truth, I must tell you, that in my opinion, this was quite possibly the worst episode of the season.

For one full hour we watched defense attorney Jamie Nelson trot out the obvious – the abused child defense tied to the Alfie Rentman made him do it through manipulation to then asking for mercy, and a life sentence instead of the death penalty. That is after the media was out in force, to get answers from Nelson, for the dinner argument she had with Colleen that landed heavily and with an exceedingly loud thud in social media.

She deftly dealt with the media then found sanctuary in the court room where Mario Siletti was ready to give his Off with His Head Speech after a few witnesses showed up for direct by Nelson, each of whom faced some brief crosses by the DA. Nelson also told the Judge that Dustin Maker would have the entire rest of his natural life to think about what he had done, and what it had cost him. He’s only 18 – so figure at least 50-60 more years in San Quentin.

DA Mario Siletti was at least this week free from serious gaffes. He was a bit tough on grilling a couple of Nelson’s witnesses which resulted in Nelson objections which were sustained by the Judge.

It may not have been totally obvious and it took them a while to spell it out – but lawyer Nelson was arguing for a life sentence while parading the boy’s father, and a court shrink to tell us the litany of this sociopath’s flaws. Jeez – it was like watching paint dry. And then Maker himself took the stand. which was equally if not more tortuous for the audience. We didn’t get to see his young cousin as I thought we might.

Somehow, to me, showing mercy is more about ending the young man’s life rather than: and now, for our defendant, here you go – a life sentence with no chance of parole.

In case you dozed off – Jalil Thompson is still dead but at least found – in another man’s grave. The old wrong toe-tag game. I expect there will be more on this in the upcoming weeks.

Raffi had the week off – as did Molk, Navarro, Koto, and the Chief of Police. As did Sugar Cascade and Fatty B. You recall in my past recaps, I stated that MITF has this shell game they play with us – they introduce a new character, throw suspicion on him, and then, just when you think the coppers have their man, you find out that they don’t and they introduce some one else. Or bring back some character that we met long ago.

This week it is the IA or Management Control investigator Torres. We met him briefly before when he interviewed Navarro, and I think earlier in the season, he had an exchange with Hildy about something. This week this guy tried to talk Hildy into standing clear of the Union and Junior’s troubles. What a sweetheart. Hildy wasn’t buying or impressed.

Continue reading

Murder in the First: Season 2 Episode 8 – Out of the Shadows – Recap and Analysis

Out of the Shadows, the 8th episode of Murder in the First’s second season, was a decided upgrade over the previous segments. However, before you think that I’ve fully jumped on the bandwagon, or that I’m all in, let’s have a closer look.


Actually I’m still in the camp of those who are not yet all in. As I noted in least week’s MITF notes, the show likes to toss in new characters, in what seems like a weekly basis.

All of a sudden, Mario Siletti, the DA who is in charge of the prosecution of the Dustin Maker case, has a wife and a nearly or possibly wayward son. Who knew?

The almost forgotten Alyssa, Molk’s strip club hostess girlfriend, has reappeared, and now, she suddenly matters. She’s the bag-lady for the union, delivering envelopes crammed with money on the union’s orders. She’s also terrified.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The episode began with Sugar and family emerging from a church – Tenea’s funeral. Gang squad coppers Raffi and Isaiah are watching from across the street. Sugar comes over, and we get that Raffi knows more than we previously thought. Sugar appears to think the same thing.

But did you notice the tat on Fatty B’s neck? I could be wrong, or this could have no meaning at all, but it made me flash back to juvie hall footage of the still missing Jalil who also had a tattoo that he hadn’t had before. Is there a connection?

Back at headquarters, Koto suggests that the Kaleb Peat case be handed off to the Cold Case cops, and that English, and Hildy work the Sarah Tran case. And the murderer could very well be in the building, so…

Especially since the forensics show that she’s been dead for six weeks and the phone message sent to her husband Brian Tran had a date that was three weeks after her death. Worth looking into, no?

Still at HQ, Raffi’s Commander Criolla, who we already know is running Junior McCormick’s debt clearance, and is way high up in the Union; he takes Raffi off the Sugar case.

Continue reading

Murder in the First: Episode 02-07 State of the Union – Recap and Analysis


Murder in the First has displayed a sketchy game plan in this the second season on TNT. Make that multiple sketchy game plans.

Here’s one. Paint a pretty picture that has everyone believing that a certain party is guilty of something. Never mind that there’s no actual proof. Run with it any way.

Were you like me, and most of the viewers, thinking that Detective Navarro was the bad guy in the Homicide Detectives Squad Room. I was sure he was guilty of something. Wasn’t he on the run? Wasn’t he ready to spend mass quantities of the currency of the USA, just to pass into Mexico via Lane Six at the border crossing?.

That’s what I believed in the main. Last week I kind of hedged my bet by asking – well, what exactly was he guilty of?

We will circle back to Navarro in a while.

Here’s another way that Murder in the First did the old switcheroo on us. While I think it is evident that no one watching this season thought that Hildy’s bro – Junior McCormick, was any kind of a good guy. He looked, sounded, and acted like he was born with a chip on his shoulder.

But who knew that he would be this bad. Aside from his detective work, he also moon lighted as the Union’s unofficial Collection Agency. You know – Junior was the muscle to squeeze those who needed squeezing. Nothing like a good five or six punches in the face to get those recalcitrant debtors (those with major unpaid debts to the union) to open the company safe to make a payoff. Each time Junior brought in a bundle, the amount on his own marker was reduced.

Which leads us to another way that the producers and writers of this series continue to play a shell game on we viewers. When things are getting stale – introduce some new characters like –

Exhibit A – Koto’s Dad – just an ordinary father who dreamed his son could become a future Mayor of San Francisco

Exhibit B – Detective Molk’s pole dancer girl friend

Exhibit C – Hildy and Junior’s Dad – a former cop himself. And make him a racist too. Junior asks Pops to front him for 70K. Really? When Dad said he didn’t have 70K laying around (who does?), you just knew we’d be seeing more of Dad McCormick.

Continue reading

Murder in the First – Season 02 Episode 03 – Blue on Blue


TNT’s Murder in the First aired the 3rd episode of the current season tonight. They called this one Blue on Blue, which apparently is a kind of euphemism for cop killed by cop.

If you recall, last week I made an issue of pointing out that one cop, the short burly Hispanic detective, Edgar Navarro, seemed almost pleased that Walt Martin had been killed. So the I.A. cops interviewed the cops on duty that night, which turned up a list of 30 cops who were on scene in the North Tunnel.

Meanwhile Terry English met with the M.E. in the lab who told him that the bullet that killed Walt was a 40mm, and neither Alfie nor Dustin had used that kind of weapon. Point being, as that was the caliber used by the SFPD, it was a blue on blue shooting.

Okay fair enough. But soon after, Walt Martin’s partner, Officer Kaleb Peat,  was told to take a vacation. As in leave the job behind for a while, find a beach somewhere, clear your head, and don’t come back until you’re ready. Again this is kind of standard.

But that caused a rotation within the detective ranks. As English had been promoted, Hildy needed a partner. You’d be right if you thought it would be Navarro.So far no lights have focused on him – other than the fact that he is now Hildy’s partner. Is that what we might call a misdirection?

Koto is back up on his feet although still in the hospital. The very hospital where Shooter 1 (Dustin Maker) is under heavy guard as he recuperates.

But there was another violent killing in one of the local ‘grow houses’. As in growing pot. What had been likely a robbery ended with a shooting. The vic was a Victor Chen, a Chinese émigré. There was a young kid in the vicinity, Jalil Thompson, and as he had blood on his shoes, he was brought in for questioning. As it turned out, Jalil was the ‘good’ kid in a family of known gang=bangers and hoodlums. We heard this from the boy’s mother who begged Hildy to not question him or keep him in the lockup.

But English wanted to press murder charges against the kid. Hildy told him not to, as it would basically ruin his life. Jalil was just 13.

But Jalil was not so innocent as his mother though he was. Jalil knew the local drug boss – one Sugar Cascade. As did English. And this Sugar Cascade also kept tabs on English whose career he had studiously followed. Sun Tzu anyone? Know your enemy…

Also in play was Mario Siletti, the acting DA, who made the TV news when he appeared at a vigil for the dead students, the ones killed by Alfie and Dustin in the first episode. His quote was newsworthy as he promised that those dead students deserved justice as did the city of San Francisco.

Continue reading