An intern may have accidentally left the final drafts of the Taxi Brooklyn scripts in the back seat of their cross-town ride.
Okay, before I do the rundown I need – need – to kick and scream about last week’s episode (s1e4) of this show. It was the very distillation of what not to do on a cop show, and really what not to do on a one hour drama – incredibly weak treatment of a serious issue, compounded by some awful writing, lines that were undeliverable, and topped off by limp performances by a crowd of moppets who were asked to give way too much from their performances. It bordered on Very Special Episode and there’s absolutely no excuse for that on TV nowadays.
I seriously considered removing this show from my queue, but ultimately decided to pretend this episode never existed and see how things shake out over another week or two. On to the details:
Taxi Brooklyn, Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.
Young NYC cop (Chyler Leigh) who plays it a little too fast and loose (but Gets Results) has her driver’s license suspended.1 Fortunately the incident that triggers this also brings her into contact with a French cabdriver (Jacky Ido) and the pair form an Unlikely Partnership. Plot threads include the detective’s search for who killed her cop father, the cabbie’s immigration status and separation from his family, and local and federal investigations into various Criminal Syndicates. It’s both much less and just as cliched as my capitalization suggests.
This is the tv-series version of the American remake of the bizarrely long-running French film series, but a little more serious, and a little less with the souped up rocket car, from what I can tell.2 Luc Besson is among various names on the writing, directing, and producing teams who I assume were involved with the original series – though what that means for importing the concept is unclear. Plenty of excellent TV vets are mixed into the cast as well.
Who Would Want to Hail This Taxi?
Like the head-banging muddle that was Crossing Lines this show feels at least a little geared towards an international audience. More importantly it shares a lot of DNA with ABC’s Castle: hard-nosed female cop with a family tragedy in the background partners with non-cop who brings some surprisingly useful skills and connections to the table. Taxi Brooklyn was likely written with fans of lighter police shows in mind, with some hopes of sucking in Leigh’s fans as well.
A friend described the pilot as an excuse to have an extended car chase be an hour-long show, but adrenaline junkies need not tune in. That was a pilot-gimmick; while squealing tires will doubtless appear in almost every episode, there’s much more walking and talking.
Like Castle before it, Taxi Brooklyn is quite adept with its mismatched pairing – the conceit is believable enough, likewise the cabbie’s continued involvement in various cases. Most of the cast is also a lot of fun to watch, and – occasional cliched dialogue bits aside – things move along well, even charmingly. There are some highly enjoyable flashes of character to be found, from the dry delivery of Jennifer Esposito‘s M.E. to an out-of-left-field bit involving an elaborate costume to scare a suspect into a spontaneous confession.
Frequent jump cuts make it hard to settle into each storyline; I think the creators thought they were adding some zip, but it becomes too much of a rush. Lines, and sometimes scenes, are underwritten (or just badly written) to the point that you are glad for the inevitable jump cut. Despite the legitimate comparison to Castle, Leigh is not yet Stana Katic and Det. Sullivan is not yet Det. Beckett.
All the positives above are bits, pieces, flashes. The ingredients are all there, but the mix is off, things often feel half-baked, and the show (and this metaphor) could have been left to simmer longer.
Keep the Tip
Late in one episode the main character is told “You’re a good cop… but you’re a better person.” This is exactly backwards – Taxi Brooklyn should be about these characters solving crimes and banging around within the system; instead we get way too much time examining the costs of all this on the characters – too much for what the writing, or perhaps acting/directing, can sustain.
Three episodes in and this show was a tossup as to recommendation. It’s still in my queue, and I’m hoping the rough edges and waa-waa moments don’t pile up faster than the bits of charm and solid cop show elements. Expect an exasperated tweet or three if this cab goes off the rails.