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 Pedigree: The show is executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters, Arrow), Richard Shepard (Ringer), and Nicholas Wootten (NYPD Blue, Law & Order). Wootten created the show and wrote the pilot. Shepard directed the pilot.
The Cast & How You Know Them: Golden Boy stars Theo James (Bedlam, Downton Abbey), Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies, Human Target), Kevin Alejandro (Southland, True Blood), Bonnie Somerville (NYPD Blue, Cashmere Mafia), Holt McCallany (CSI: Miami, Lights Out), and Stella Maeve (Gossip Girl, House).
The Premise: The story is told in extended flashbacks as Walter Clark tells the story of how he became the youngest New York Police Department commissioner in history. As a beat cop, a heroic act gets him a promotion to homicide detective, and we see his personal and professional struggles as he rises from there.
What Works: The cast is very talented all around, and I quite liked several of the supporting characters. I’m intrigued by the story of Clark’s sister. And the flashback structure is an interesting way to try framing a cop show, even if I’m not wild about what it’s framing here.
What Doesn’t: I had two main problems with Golden Boy. The first was that the main character seems, in the pilot at least, to be a completely terrible person with no redeeming qualities. Now, I don’t have to like characters as people to find them interesting as characters, but when a show is framed around the character’s success by definiton, it’s hard to get invested while wanting him to fail. And he’s just one-dimensionally awful so far, not even interestingly awful. My other main issue was that the case of the week in the pilot was completely forgettable. It wasn’t bad, and if it had happened in season three or four of an established show while the audience was invested in character arcs, I probably wouldn’t complain. But it absolutely did not grab me. I also didn’t like the stylized filming style used in parts of the flashbacks, which isn’t a huge problem but didn’t make it any easier to watch something I already wasn’t much enjoying.
Our Favorite Line: “Who am I, Morgan Freeman? Open your own damn door.”
You Might Like This if you like cop dramas with ongoing stories along with their cases of the week. This is sort of like the anti-Blue Bloods – it deals with some of the same themes and issues but instead of being rooted in the perhaps too idealized Reagan family, everything is terrible.
If You’re Interested: Golden Boy premieres tonight on CBS and CTV at 10/9c.
(Photo courtesy of CBS.)