TV Review: Star Power Drives TNT’s ‘King & Maxwell’

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CHICAGOTNT’s “King & Maxwell” fits squarely in the TNT brand, shows built around the charisma of its stars. Whether it’s the popular gents at the center of “Franklin & Bash,” Kyra Sedgwick on “The Closer” or the likable pair who headline “Rizzoli & Isles,” the brand has worked (and didn’t exactly for ensemble shows like the now-canceled “Monday Mornings” and “Southland.”) The two stars at the center of this new weekly mystery series are really the only reason to watch it and they have just enough chemistry and just enough witty banter that TNT could have another Summer hit on their hands. Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0

Sean King (Jon Tenney) and Michelle Maxwell (Rebecca Romijn) are the titular leads in this series based on the books by David Baldacci and developed by “NCIS: Los Angeles” creator Shane Brennan. Premiering tonight after the return of TNT hit series “Major Crimes,” “King & Maxwell” should fit with viewers who like that show — a little banter, a mystery, a few guest stars, and they’re out.

King and Maxwell
King and Maxwell
Photo credit: TNT

King is a former Secret Service agent who crashed out of that program when his presidential candidate was assassinated. Maxwell seems to carry the duo, at least to start, with a combination of beauty & brains. The pair have formed their own private investigation firm, ready to take on cases with their unique backgrounds in government and law.

King and Maxwell
King and Maxwell
Photo credit: TNT

With the world abuzz about government programs like the NSA surveillance issue, the timing seems perfect for a mystery series about a pair who will work for the little man or try to protect someone in office. They work outside of the industry but know how it ticks better than those still within it.

The success of “King & Maxwell” relies heavily on the casting of its leads. Romijn should have become a TV star long ago but has fallen into several failed projects. She’s beautiful and still believable as a smart and tough detective. Tenney is a little less well-cast at least at the beginning since King feels like a character who should be more downtrodden and still rattled over his Secret Service failure. He’s a bit too smooth to sell the arc of a government employee looking for redemption by solving crimes on his own.

If Tenney isn’t quite gritty enough, that too fits with the TNT model. The reason that “The Closer” really separated itself from the pack on this network (and that the great “Southland” never felt like it belonged) is because its writers weren’t afraid to get thematically dark. “King & Maxwell” feels like it’s going to be a safer program, an easy distraction on Monday nights that doesn’t challenge viewers but gives them a nice escape after a long day at work. And Tenney and Romijn are just likable enough to make that escape attractive.

“King & Maxwell” stars Jon Tenney, Rebecca Romijn, Michael O’Keefe, Chris Butler, and Ryan Hurst. It premieres on TNT on Monday, June 10, 2013 at 9pm CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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