Review Of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles Series
Starring: Angie Harmon & Sasha Alexander
The idea of bright, complicated women as television crime solvers is not new – Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer comes immediately to mind – but this exploration has the potential to yield interesting plot lines. There are at least two love interests lining up for Rizzoli. Who will she choose? Or will she turn out to be so damaged that she won’t choose any?
Just before the summer season started, the long-running crime procedural Law and Order aired its final episode. The series had put in 20 solid seasons, seen several detectives and ADAs, and had given us numerous solved and unsolved murders. It was loved. Angie Harmon is an alumna of Law and Order, having played Assistant District Attorney Addie Carmichael. This summer she is back on Rizzoli and Isles, now on the side of Law, and plays Jane Rizzoli, a dedicated Boston-based detective who can solve cases, play baseball and basketball with the best of the guys. Her literal partner in crime is Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), a forensic investigator whose Encyclopaedia Brown brain for detail makes up for her social awkwardness. Together (cue musical flourish) they solve crime. If these characters seems familiar it may be because you’ve read the novel by Tess Gerritsen, on which the characters are based. Or perhaps it’s because you’ve watched Bones, Monk, or even The Nutty Professor, in which a lack of social grace is the byproduct of a brilliant mind. But although it has all the making to be great hit show on paper, Rozzoli and Isles for most part feels like a blend of many shows that have already aired.
On paper, the cast for the television series is fantastic. Harmon and Alexander themselves are no newcomers to the small-screen world and they are backed up by a sound cast and impressive guest stars. Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos) plays Rozzoli mother, Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects) her father Donnie Wahlberg (screen, NKOTB fans!) her lieutenant, and Bruce McGill (ALI), her ex-partner and close friend. On episode two, the veteran actor Brian Dennehy, who is no slouch in the acting arena, guest stars. Thus it comes as no surprise that the acting is good. Some of the best moments in the pilot occur in the exchanges between Jane and her mother who can be, in the Morgenstern of Rhoda to Mrs Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond, overbearingly loving and a little too honest. Yet even that is a rehash of a stereotype. In episode two, Mama Rizzoli is particularly concerned. Her son (Jordon Bridges), who worships his sister become a police officer just like she did will probably not get married and have children (like Jane) if he continues down this path. And in episode one a serial killer has escaped prison and is now hunting for her daughter. Why won’t her children listen? Thus, while Rizzoli solves cases she wrangles with members of her family.
The crimes themselves are so-so. In episode one, she is captured by the aforementioned serial killer and his apprentice. She manages to escape but the manner in which she does so is a little convenient. Her one-liner, though, at the end, is memorable and makes foe another nice moment. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough such moments to make the show truly spectacular. What has the potential to be truly interesting for the patient viewer is the unveiling of Rozzoli character. Although it seems like Isles’s character should be more interesting (who is this lonely genius and fashionista?)
There are hints that Rozzoli will move past the obvious markers of the strong, independent female and turn out to be more layered than is now apparent, And that the revelation, if subtly done of bright, complicated women as television crime solvers is not new – Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer comes immediately to mind – but this exploration has the potential to yield interesting lining up for Rozzoli. Who will she choose? Or will she turn out to be so damaged that she won’t choose any?
Another interested thing about Rizzoli and Isles is the camera work. Scenes can be moody blue or fluorescent light-bright depending on the content. There are also interesting splices, quick clips inserted in scenes to series is not a trailblazer in this arena, Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation have used many of these techniques already, to greater effect. On balance, what is left is an alright show with a good cast of actors. The books probably better.
Rizzoli & Isles airs: Mondays at 9pm on TNT Rated: TV-14