Saturday, March 23, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Deception, season 1 (2013) **½

TV-14, 11 43-min. episodes
Creator: Liz Heldens

Directors: Peter Horton, Jonas Pate, Dan Lerner, Andrew Bernstein, Michael Schultz, Tate Donovan, Gloria Muzio

Writers: Liz Heldens, Peter Elkoff, Alexandra Cunningham, Jordan Hawley, Kath Lingenfelter, Brent Fletcher, Monica Macer, Jessica Goldberg, Kevin J. Hynes

Starring: Meagan Good, Laz Alonso, Tate Donovan, Wes Brown, Katherine LaNasa, Ella Rae Peck, Marin Hinkle, Victor Garber

Guest starring: John Larroquette, Tom Lipinski, Michael Drayer, David A. Gregory, David Gelles, Anna Wood, Paloma Guzmán, Bree Williamson, Scott Bryce, Christina Jackson, Sterling Jerins, Lily Pilblad, John Pyper-Ferguson, Geoffrey Cantor, Steven Weisz, Ken Leung, Micah Stock, Makenzie Leigh, Connor Buckley, Brian Donahue, S. Epatha Merkerson

I like NBC. I know that’s not a popular sentiment these days. The network has fallen far since the days of “Must See TV.” I like the risks they take. Their shows are rarely hugely popular, but they tend to be original. Look at “30 Rock” or “Community”. Those are shows that nobody else would’ve been willing to put out there before a public that tends to stick with what they know. Even when they jump on a bandwagon, like the recent trend of the supernatural in regular programming, they come up with a fairly original take on it, ala “Grimm”.

Where NBC goes wrong for me is when they try to conform to the norm, or when they out right copy another network’s hit. I don’t watch “Revenge”, but NBC’s latest drama “Deception” seems pulled of the very same shelf. I believe another ABC show that I don’t watch, “Scandal”, might’ve been cooked in the same kitchen too. Even though, I’m not really into these descandaltion plots, my wife sometimes dictates our television programming, and she was interested. I think it worked better for her than for me.

“Deception” involves a female police detective who works undercover with the FBI to solve a high profile murder of the daughter of a prominent New York businessman. Her “in” with the family is that she was the daughter of one of their servants when she was a girl and best friends with the deceased. She pretends to come home after a bad marriage and works her way back into the lives of this seriously dysfunctional Rockefeller type family.

I like the cast. Meagan Good isn’t the purely typical female lead. As my wife pointed out after the first episode, “It’s nice to see a woman who’s a little hippy.” She wasn’t talking about a lifestyle choice. She is attractive however, as are all the family members. I like Tate Donovan as the older brother with a very troubled past. I like Victor Garber as the patriarch. Katherine LaNasa is a little too heavy as the replacement mother. I find it hard to believe anything she says or that anyone else would either. Her acting is a little soap opera-esque. John Larroquette is also good in an important recurring role.

I fear this whole thing just isn’t juicy enough to compete against the shows it’s modeled after, however. It has bite, but it doesn’t snap. It has all the twists and turns, but they’re a little too easy to see coming sometimes. And many of the characters seem to behave in service of the plot rather than themselves.

After a short 11-episode season I am interested to see where things go, but I’m not entirely sold on the show. On any other network, the show’s poor ratings would guarantee the show’s cancelation. On NBC, who knows. I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing any more of this story, but NBC’s desperation has lead to some squirrely moves in the past and future, just look at “The Tonight Show”.

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