Crushing On Backstrom

OK, this one completely snuck up on me. I’ve been aware of Backstrom since last year because I looked it up when it popped up on the BC Film List of productions shooting in Vancouver, but I didn’t have a clue what the finished product would actually be. I sat down to watch it with zero expectations. It was more of a case of being off Reign lately and having given FOX my time in that timeslot last fall with Gracepoint, so old habits and what not.

So I watched the first episode, and laughed repeatedly, and marveled at the fantastic cast. Rainn Wilson is new to me because I never watched The Office. But I enjoy Dennis HaysbertKristoffer Polaha, and Thomas Dekker. Also in the cast are Genevieve Angelson as Millennial detective Nicole Gravely, Page Kennedy, as Moto, a uniformed officer who’s also handy as Backstrom’s muscle, and Beatrice Rosen as their admin, Nadia. The whole shebang is the brainchild of Hart Hanson, who has give us shows as varied as Bones, Traders, and Cupid.

The setup for the show is simple — Backstrom (Wilson) is the son of a much-decorated police chief who was a raging asshat at home. His own career has been less than stellar and he’s been shunted off to lead a ragtag group of investigators that everyone expects to fail. Haysbert plays his partner. Polaha is the medical examiner. Dekker is Valentine, Backstrom’s part-time roommate and confidential informant (and I’m guessing his son, although nobody’s said that yet).

Backstrom is a stress bucket — smoking, drinking, and in frail health — but he says what he thinks without a filter. And it’s usually highly offensive (and hysterical). So what we get is a procedural from the perspective of a detective who couldn’t give less of a damn about process but is fully committed to solving the crime.

It feels a little like Endgame, which I adored — a highly dysfunctional and generally unpleasant central character who leans on, and has the begrudging affection and respect of, his team. I’ve also seen folks compare it to House, which I never watched because I don’t do medical dramas, but if that works in Backstrom‘s favor for you to check it out, then by all means go with that.

The first episode followed a college student who was hung in a killing made to look like a suicide but was a much more tangled web of a crime. In it, we got to know Backstrom and his band of co-workers as we followed them on their investigation.

The second episode, “Bella” spun around a series of arsons with a burglary component. It also pitted Backstrom against his childhood nemeses — a pair of brothers, now firefighters, who made his adolescence hell. We got glimpses of how much their abuse then still affected him now.

At the end of the episode, we got a clearer picture of just how complex Backstrom is. Reunited with Bella — his beloved handmade kite — 30 years later, Backstrom and Valentine go to the park. Once Bella’s airborne, Backstrom looks up, utterly joyful and happy, with all the weight he carries daily lifted off of him for a moment. Wilson was perfect. Valentine asks Backstrom if he will build a kite for him, too. Backstrom says yes, and then tells him to stop talking. It was just golden, and sealed that I will be watching this every week.

Earlier in the episode, we also got the comedy gold of Valentine trying to turn Polaha’s ME to his team while they were paired up tracking down a stolen watch. When he tells Valentine he’s heterosexual, Valentine comes right back with, “Well. That’s a treatable condition.” Dekker is genius-level funny in the role, and obviously having a ball. I daresay they all are.

I am so on board, and judging by IMDb, we’re in for some great HITG Canadian guest stars (always a bonus) in the first season.

Here’s a sneak peek of tonight’s episode, which guest stars Sarah Chalke. Backstrom airs at 9/8c on FOX in the US and 10 e/p on City in Canada.


Photo and Videos Courtesy of FOX

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