Friday, May 11, 2012

'Common Law'

USA's latest lighthearted crime procedural opens with a quote from Dr. Phil, and things don't really improve from there. Common Law supplements its by-the-numbers crime-solving with a silly gimmick about the main characters, bickering homicide detectives played by Michael Ealy and Warren Kole, attending couples counseling to heal their dysfunctional relationship. So there are cutesy jokes about how their partnership is like a marriage, and there is the exaggerated banter that's not much different from any other mismatched buddy-cop show or movie, only here it's placed front and center, so that solving the crime in the needlessly expanded pilot feels almost like an afterthought.

Ealy is a charismatic actor, but both of the main characters come off as smug and grating, thanks to the show's needs to play up their antagonistic (but ultimately loving) relationship. Kole, playing the more uptight character, fares worse, and it's hard to find anything appealing about his constant self-righteous nagging. As far as the crime-solving goes, it's entirely rote, which is to be expected from a show like this but is still tiresome to watch. The real appeal, as with almost all of USA's "blue sky" dramas, should be in spending time with the characters, but by halfway through the first episode I never wanted to see these guys again. 

Premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on USA.

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