Reviews

Wanted

Glenn McDonald

Judging from its pilot, TNT's crime drama Wanted thinks you're an idiot.


Wanted

Airtime: Sundays, 10pm
Cast: Gary Cole, Ryan Hurst, Rashida Jones, Benjamin Benitez, Josey Scott
Network: TNT
Amazon

Ideally, the pilot for a new TV series puts its best foot forward. By the end of it, you should know how you feel about the show. Just as importantly, you should have a sense of how the show feels about you.

Judging from its pilot, TNT's crime drama Wanted thinks you're an idiot. It figures you won't notice or care about cavernous plot holes, hackneyed storylines or even cheap sentiment, so long as every frame is jammed with gadgets, guns, and a regular procession of nearly nekkid ladies.

Wanted follows an elite team of law enforcement officers tasked with tracking down Los Angeles' 100 most wanted criminals. Exactly 100. Targeted perps are referred to by their rankings -- #45, or #93 -- and literally checked off the white board when apprehended or, more likely, killed. Recordkeeping is a snap!

Each of the task force officers has a specialty. Formerly of L.A. SWAT, team leader Lt. Conrad Rose (Gary Cole) is the tactical smart guy. Handsome Tommy Rodriguez (Benjamin Benitez) is new-school FBI, a specialist in undercover work. LAPD tech guru Rodney Gronbeck (Josey Scott) handles the gadgetry, and DEA agent Joe Vacco (Brendan Kelly) provides the muscle. Two characters depart from the central-casting list: Carla Merced (Rashida Jones) is a hostage negotiator from Naval Intelligence, and ATF officer Jimmy McGloin's (Ryan Hurst) specialty seems to be that he's a devout Christian.

These last two are the only squad members who distinguish themselves in the pilot, wherein the team tracks down a dangerous convict who escapes custody at mom's funeral. Merced, being a girl and all, is mistrusted by the boys but finds a way to be useful that involves wearing a tight sleeveless shirt. McGloin brings his own burden: chaste and mindful of sin, he nevertheless seems to enjoy the violent aspects of his job. Must be an Old Testament guy.

Tracking down the escapee leads McGloin and Rodriguez into a strip club. Very convenient -- the camera drinks it all in, offering relentless glimpses of partial female nudity. Then something happens and people start shooting and then something else happens and Rodriquez is in bed with the perp's ex and people start shooting again and so on. It really doesn't matter. One scene changes abruptly from bright daylight to a cooler-looking nighttime. No explanation. Wanted doesn't care. Neither should you.

But, hey, it gets the important stuff right. The action scenes are adequately kinetic, there's plenty of tough-cop talk, and the expositional refrains are comfortably familiar: Connie gets called on the carpet by the bitch commissioner lady and is suitably manly. (Cole looks a lot leaner and meaner than we've seen him before). Connie also gets a home life, that is, he's going through a divorce and child custody issues. In one scene, Connie drops off his young teenage son at school and says he'll pick him up after practice. "Promise?" the kid says, doe-eyed. "Promise," Connie replies gravely. Music swells. Back to the kid, smiling hopefully. Back to Connie, looking fatherly. At this point, of course, it is a 100 percent guaranteed lock that Connie will not be making that rendezvous.

Superior cop shows -- NYPD Blue, say -- plot the domestic turf as carefully as the field work. or leave it out altogether. Crime thrillers and procedurals aren't required to offer meaningful human relationships. The CSI and Law & Order franchises don't stray too far from the workplace. They trust that their basic material -- urban law enforcement, forensics, the legal system -- is intrinsically compelling. They give us something to chew on, ethical or scientific dilemmas, and assume we're smart enough to be interested, and to understand.

By contrast, Wanted offers the occasional high-tech instrument (a GPS tracker, remote listening devices), but even these are familiar. Wanted borrows its concepts from better shows, and dutifully puts them on display. But it's actually peddling junk: chases, shootouts, newly liberated basic-cable swear words, and softcore sex. In the end, it's all testosterone and hardware fetishism. TV for the Maxim crowd. Using Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" as its theme song (recalling CSI's use of "Who Are You"), Wanted suggests a handy analogy: as Bon Jovi is to the Who; Wanted is to CSI.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Prof. Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.