TV Review: Second Season of Attitude-Heavy Cable Hit ‘The Glades’

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CHICAGO – A&E finally figured out how to mimic the ratings success of its fellow basic cable networks like A&E and TNT when it launched “The Glades” — another program built around a strong, charismatic lead. Matt Passmore carries the mystery/cop series over a few of its storytelling bumps but the program is hit-and-miss overall. Luckily, there are enough solid episodes of “The Glades” to carry the viewer through the escapist season of summer. Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0

The premise of “The Glades” is classic fish-out-of-water material. Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) is a Chicago tough guy detective who has to adjust his style to the new terrain of Florida. Set in the sunny burg of Palm Glade, Longworth encounters enough murder, double-crossing, and other nefarious deeds to keep him off the golf course and beach. He works closely with Carlos (Carlos Gomez) and Colleen (Michelle Hurd) and tries to woo the lovely Callie (Kiele Sanchez of “Lost”).

The Glades
The Glades
Photo credit: A&E

The second-season premiere is certainly not “The Glades” at its best but it does feature some of the elements that make it work for its stronger episodes. Most importantly, Passmore is a charismatic lead, the kind of guy who usually has all the answers and stops all the criminals, sometimes by sheer force of attitude. When the show began, Passmore was playing Jim a bit too smarmy but he’s developed a slightly different rhythm even in just the first two episodes of the new season. He seems less cocky and more down-to-Earth. The subtle changes work in the show’s favor.

The Glades
The Glades
Photo credit: Fox

What doesn’t work in the show’s favor for the premiere, “Family Matters,” is a lackluster mystery-of-the-week story that centers on a Cuban gang war and a long-held secret romance. When the niece of one of the two warring gangs is found murdered, execution-style, all-out chaos looks like it could be around the corner but this murder has more to it than meets the eye.

At the same time, Jim is still trying to figure out the terms of his relationship with Callie, a situation that gets significantly more complicated when her con ex-husband gets out of jail and wants to re-enter the life of his son. Jim wants to give them the required space but doesn’t want to lose someone he’s clearly fallen in love with to her old domestic life.

The repartee between Passmore and Sanchez is, once again, the strongest element of the show. The second episode sent for review, about a serial killer from Jim’s past in Chicago who may have moved down to Florida, is much stronger, but the case in the first episode is a bit over-written. Forbidden love, gang wars, corrupt cops, comments about the plight of Cubans in Florida, revenge, betrayal — it’s overly complicated for a 45-minute mystery and “The Glades” can’t quite support it.

“The Glades” works best when it adopts the casual-but-crazy style of its Florida setting. There’s a reason that Florida has been a fantastic setting for crime fiction for years (including great work by Carl Hiaasen & Elmore Leonard). Its unique melting pot of wealth, crime, tourism, immigrants, and alligators is unlike anywhere else in the world. When Matt Passmore allows his character to be our eyes into this wacky world, “The Glades” is truly enjoyable summer escapism. Some episodes this season will surely be just that. Don’t expect every trip to “The Glades” to be a memorable one, but enough will be to warrant inclusion in your summer viewing schedule.

The Glades
The Glades
Photo credit: A&E

If you want to catch up on “The Glades,” you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to do so. Fox is usually stellar at releasing previous season DVDs in time for viewers to catch up before the new one premieres but they’re off a couple weeks with this month’s release of “The Glades: The Complete First Season,” hitting stores next Tuesday, June 14th.

With its lush setting and beautiful people, one would think that “The Glades” would be a good fit for Blu-ray, but Fox has chosen to issue it on standard DVD only. I know that the BD market hasn’t taken off like people expected, but every new program in 2011 should be released in HD. It just seems illogical to me that people who watched the show in HD in its initial airing and liked it enough to buy it and watch it again can’t do so in the same quality.

The set is neatly packaged in a case that only takes up about the space of a single DVD but includes four discs of 13 episodes. Special features include deleted scenes, audio commentary on select episodes, “Sunshine State of Mind: Casting the Glades,” “A Location For Murder: Filming The Glades,” and a gag reel.

“The Glades” stars Matt Passmore, Kiele Sanchez, Carlos Gomez, and Michelle Hurd. It returns on A&E on Sunday, June 5th, 2011 at 9pm CST on A&E. The first season DVD will be released by Fox Home Video on June 14th, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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