CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
TV Review: Get on the Streets with ‘Boston’s Finest’
CHICAGO – “Cops,” “The First 48” — people love getting on the ground with real cops, the men and women who fight crime in an increasingly dangerous world. There’s something about riding along with law enforcers that is instantly engaging — the danger, the side of society we don’t often see, the real-life action. Into this genre enters the pretty-good “Boston’s Finest,” a beantown approach to the unscripted cop show produced by legendary Bostonian Donnie Wahlberg (“Blue Bloods”), premiering tonight, February 27, 2013, on TNT.
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
The approach to unscripted crime-fighting in “Boston’s Finest” is far from breakthrough. It feels like a real-life “Southland” on the other coast, as cameramen are teamed up with pairs of cops from some of the most intense branches of the Boston P.D., including special task forces, the SWAT Team, the Fugitive Unit, and the Gang Unit. This is not your “drunk guy in the road” stuff like you’d see on “Cops.” It’s a more-detailed look at the people who battle crime, closer to “The First 48” but with more of an emphasis on the cops than that show, which is so built around the crime itself.
Photo credit: TNT
“Boston’s Finest” doesn’t just stay in the squad car. In fact, a lot of the show is devoted to the personal lives of the men and women on the streets of Boston. We will get to know their families, how they got to this place in their career, and the way they balance dangerous jobs with personal needs. The show clearly is designed to present a well-rounded picture of life as a Boston cop instead of just hero worship or on-the-street action. It humanizes “Boston’s Finest” in ways that allow it to stand out from other cop showsw, which often feel like they’re purely designed for action junkies or crime solvers instead of people looking for a human story.
If it sounds like too much for one show, it sometimes is. I wish the producers would stick with one or two cops for a whole episode. Give us a better sense of a “week in the life” instead of jumping around in a way that never allows one to fully get a grip on what is happening when. The show can sometimes feel scattershot, as the quick edits and multiple personalities are clearly designed to hook as many viewers as possible with a wide variety of characters but I wanted a more focused approach.
Still, I’m not the target demo for “Boston’s Finest.” It’s for the hardcore fans of the two words in the title. Everyone in Boston is going to love the hometown approach (Wahlberg even seems to be playing up his accent in the narration) and cop show fans will find a lot to like here. It’s doesn’t break the mold but fits nicely in it for its audience.