Okay, so on Monday night they had the second episode of Murder in the First, and that makes it still much too early to recommend or dismiss. But I thought it was deserving of a follow-up posting here about how it's doing so far, given how high my anticipation of the series has been, coming from the creator of the brilliant Murder One, Steven Bochco.
At the moment, it’s still just a police procedural and done well, though nothing remotely out of the ordinary, but hopefully it’ll get to the court involved (which was the magnificent center of the show's predecessor, Murder One) without dragging the investigations along too long. However, one thing I do feel comfortable commenting about is that last night they did something that was ridiculously stupid.
The hot detective played by Kathleen Robertson needs to get DNA from the billionaire tech whiz suspect. She's told "any way you can." A couple of scenes later, we find out that this arrogant, brilliant billionaire tech whiz suspect (think Mark Zuckerberg) asks her to dinner, and she goes. Now, obviously, we're supposed to be aghast and shocked that she'd out out for drinks with a murder suspect, so I figure it’s because she wants to get DNA -- which we later find out it is. Fine, but still, at least they should have come up with some dialogue to explain to the guy why she’s agreed to go on a date with a suspect. I assume their reasoning is that he's so arrogant (after all, he asked her out) he doesn't need an explanation. But the audience does. And in truth, so does he. He may be arrogant and brilliant, but he's not an idiot.
But that's not the ridiculously stupid thing. At the end of the night, she lets him feel her up, and they have a passionate kiss -- and afterwards, unseen by him, she spits into a container for his DNA. Swell, haha, the big surprise reveal -- except that during the meal they make a big point of drinking champagne. So...why not have another officer just collect his glass???!! Wouldn’t that be like, oh, easier, and -- not risk compromising the investigation?? Yes, I know it wouldn’t be as “edgy,” and eliminate the surprise twist, but at least it would have been a) believable, and b) not stupid. Especially from a show that comes from otherwise really smart people.
This is not to dismiss the series. It's done well, and still far too early. But this better not be the level of plot structure that they rely on. Murder One was enthralling in large part because it was so meticulously believable. I know that Murder in the First is not Murder One. And more than anything, that scene proved the point. (The scene was much more L.A. Law than Murder One -- and let it be remembered that Bochco co-created that show, as well...) But there's still a terrific foundation, and smart people supporting it, so here's hoping they build on what's good there, rather than play slip-n-slide.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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