CBS‘ latest offering, Reckless, at least has the positive quality of not dancing around with what sort of nonsense it is. It lets you know where things are going right with the introductory scene. A woman is pulled over by a police officer, and she may have been drinking, but she’ll do anything not to get a ticket. You may raise your eyebrows as the officer has her cuffed to a fence and begins to take advantage of the situation, but wait, it’s all okay because this is just a little sexual roleplay between consenting adults who must really like to roleplay. (Whew. Tee hee hee. Oooo. Steamy.)
This leads us into the show’s main thrust (ha), which is to sidestep the majority of the establishment requirements by focusing on one story for at least a good while. We quickly meet Jamie Sawyer (Anna Wood), a defense attorney who is working on getting a defendant off a murder charge for which the prosecution really has absolutely no evidence. She’s the sort of lawyer who sneaks into the courtroom early to replace the jury’s pencils with pens that have no ink, because… no, there’s obviously no reason this makes any sense. But, she’s from the mean streets of Chicago, where she had it rough growing up, and now that she’s in Charleston… well, nothing really follows from that, but it’s the kind of thing the show wants you to get some mileage out of. We know Jamie is interesting, smart, and worth watching as a deep, multi-faceted character, and possibly a fantastic role model, for reasons that will be fleshed out less insultingly by just looking at the picture below than by the show’s best efforts.
On the other side of the table is Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet). He’s a southern gentleman in the sense usually reserved for cartoons, and also a recently divorced father of two who quickly becomes City Attorney with the help of his powerful, ex-father-in-law. Roy, like most characters in the show, is a conglomeration of all the tired stereotypes we want to use to progress the laughable storytelling devices we’re working, which in his case means he’s equal parts ludicrous prosecutor who believes everyone that has ever been arrested is guilty of whatever they may be accused of, and just best, most dreamiest guy ever. Will we see him with his shirt off already? Yes, we will!
While we wander through the burglary/murder case as an excuse to paint signs on our characters that clue us in to all the establishing facts we want (in Jamie’s case, we get “from the mean streets of Chicago, where she had it rough growing up,” by way of her saying to someone, “I’m from the mean streets of Chicago, where I had it rough growing up.”), the bigger case is revealed, and it connects back to our opening sex scene. We learn early on that our intro involved Officer Lee Ann Marcus (Georgina Haig) and Terry McCandless (Shawn Hatosy). McCandless is a kind of Frankenstinian mashup of all the most ridiculously “dastardly,” corrupt cops from mediocre television going back to its invention. I put “dastardly” in quotes there, because the script notes say, “Act ‘dastardly.'” Marcus is the cop who loses her job in order to hire Jamie, which is not only going to cause problems for Roy, but may lead to an unraveling of the entire police department. Or, you know, whatever the show’s synopsis says.
Add to this mix the fact that Jamie and Roy have some unbelievable chemistry (read: act like they’re in High School whenever they are near each other), but Jamie is dating a detective, and we’re off to the races.
I’m pretty sure there is a version of the pitch script for this show that looks pretty good, and I daresay could be worked into something to fall in love with. But, that show is far more toward The Shield on the police/lawyer drama spectrum, and this is almost touching Scandal. Yes, Scandal isn’t a police/lawyer drama, but I can’t think of one goofy enough to offer comparison. You may be thinking, “Does it really have to be all the way over The Shield?” Yes, and I’ll tell you why. The sort of corrupt cop story we’re going for here, which will obviously have connections that involve Roy’s ex-father-in-law (Gregory Harrison), and will ultimately lead to layer-upon-layer of truly grand machinations, isn’t the kind of story you can tell while dipping it in treacly, raunchy sex scenes, with characters who might as well twirl their mustaches, without becoming not only a soap opera, but a bad one.
Of course, while many viewers will find the dialog to be in that special, laughable category of “things that no one said, ever,” and the delivery of the more “meaty” plot steps, like Jaime’s run-in with the corrupt cops, to be along the lines of an After School Special’s lesser efforts, the target demographic really doesn’t have such thoughts, or understand such references.
We’re at the point here where we don’t even need any changes for the show to be self-mockery. All we need is the fact that I’ve put the suggestion in your mind, and Shazam, the thing is now a halfway decent comedy. Even the score and soundtrack are in on the game, hitting you with the sort of subtlety that might as well be replaced with emotion-direction subtitles.
If Scandal is your favorite show, or if you’re able to hate-watch your way to a good laugh, then settle in for your new obsession. Otherwise, stay away from Reckless.
*Reckless Review point of order – no one is really reckless per se, or exactly doing anything reckless, and the title has no referent at all, but some marketing person looked at the half-dressed stars in weird poses on posters, and said, “Splash the word ‘Reckless’ on there. Bam. Money. Bank.”