Pilot Perception: Wicked City

Wicked City

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Wicked City, ABC in the U.S. and Canada, Tuesdays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show was created by Steven Baigelman (Get On Up), who wrote the pilot and executive produces with Jon Cassar (24), David Hoberman (Monk), Todd Lieberman (Detroit 1-8-7), and Laurie Zaks (Castle). Cassar directed the pilot.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Wicked City stars Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl), Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory), Erika Christensen (Parenthood), Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story), Gabriel Luna (Matador), Anne Winters (The Fosters), Karolina Wydra (True Blood), Evan Ross (Mockingjay), and Jaime Ray Newman (Drop Dead Diva).

The Premise: In 1982 Los Angeles, a charming serial killer hunts women and a jaded cop is determined to catch him. (This is an anthology series; if it makes it past this first season the idea is that future seasons will deal with other crimes in L.A. at different points in history.)

A Taste:

 

What Works: I really like the cast, and they do a decent job with what they’re given. The show has a very strong sense of time and place. It plays on very current debates of whether to publicize killers (see below). I like season-long mysteries, and I wanted this to work. But …

What Doesn’t: This just all feels so very tired. It’s been done a million times, and while that’s not necessarily bad, shows trading on familiar set-ups and tropes need to do something interesting, but here the writing is dull, the tone has very little tension, and the violence isn’t even that extreme or shocking.

Our Favorite Line: “He isn’t going to get the attention he craves. He doesn’t deserve it. From this point forward, no more limelight, or accolades, no more fear. Nobody cares about this killer.”

You Might Like This if you like lurid, season-long mysteries set in the fairly recent past, like Aquarius.

If You’re Interested: Catch the pilot on demand, on Hulu, or on the ABC site, then set your DVR for Tuesday at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of ABC.)

About Kate

Kate Linnea Welsh is a New Hampshire-based writer and taxonomist. (No, that doesn't involve dead animals.) She keeps us up to date on TV news in her weekly column "Caffeine." She writes about other TV shows, books, and more at her blog and her site Read the Screen. She'd love to talk to you on Twitter: @katelinnea