By Darren Franich
Updated August 27, 2010 at 03:50 PM EDT
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While no one was looking, weekly procedural duty has been exported to Canada and Basic Cable. TNT provides cheap, low-calorie content with tasty sprinkles of quirk – you won’t see the cast of Criminal Minds running the Boston marathon, and Detective Stabler won’t ever keep a secret stash of candy in his desk. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north have conquered choice tele-landscape on broadcast TV. Flashpoint carries the high-gloss aesthetic of CBS’ regular-season procedurals into the seedy corners of Toronto, while Rookie Blue is a cop version of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy (which, turns out, is better than the doctor version of Grey’s Anatomy.) One imagines the out-of-work cops from the Law & Order-verse waving their fists at the Cable/Canada axis of evil: They took our jobs!

Thank Washington there’s still one red-blooded American solving crimes on a red-blooded broadcast network. Admittedly, he’s British…but what’s more American than being from Britain?

Winner of the Week: Lie To Me

The very first line of dialogue in this week’s Lie To Me was Dr. Cal Lightman’s sullen appraisal of a lavish-looking egg dish: “What d’ya call that? Stupid on a plate?” There are plenty of grouchy detectives on TV now, like House and The Mentalist‘s Patrick Jane. But both of those characters have a barely-veiled heart of gold, not to mention douchebaggery-negating backstories (drug addiction, murdered family, etc.) Lightman is just an adorable douche cadet, a genius who rubs his genius in the fat face of humanity.

The plot of Lie To Me this week centered on Foster’s DEA boyfriend, who was taken hostage by some vengeful gangsters. Lightman hates the boyfriend, since he not-so-secretly has the hots for Foster, but he willingly gave himself up as a hostage to the gangsters. Then, in a double-reverse blind, he convinced the head hoodlum that he wanted the DEA boyfriend dead…because he has the hots for Foster. Lie To Me isn’t perfect, but without much fanfare, Roth is turning Lightman into one of the most enjoyable crime-solving cads since Jim Rockford.

Surprisingly good character, considering her whole purpose is to be a plot contrivance

Emily Lightman seems to exist solely to make Cal seem like less of a jerk, but Hayley McFarland shades her essentially useless character with just the right amount of curiosity, annoyance, and child-of-divorce wisdom.

Surprisingly bad character, considering her dramatic importance to the series

Gillian Foster is Cal’s partner, his best friend, his love interest, the Jerry to his Elaine, Kramer, and George. This week, she was even at the center of the love triangle. And yet, like most of the supporting character on Lie To Me, she’s mostly just a walking Pseudo-Science delivery system.

This Week’s Flashpoint in a haiku

Evil teenagers?

Washed-up basketball player?

Nope, abusive coach!

Best Tense Standoff of the Week

The Closer had a bank robbery, Rizzoli & Isles had a murderer loose in a marathon, but nobody can beat Flashpoint. Enrico Colatani spent the episode talking a suicidal high school basketball player away from the rooftop of his school. Meanwhile, inside the school, the player’s best friend was holding the abusive basketball coach hostage. Explosions ensued.

Better Name for Flashpoint

Tense Standoff: The Series

Further Proof that Rizzoli & Isles wants to do for Boston what The Wire did for Baltimore

In just the seven episodes, Rizzoli has already done episodes about the Boston Strangler, Massachusetts’ gay marriage law, and now the Boston Marathon.

Biggest Waste of Balthazar Getty

On Rizzoli & Isles, Getty played a marathon official who did not flirt with anyone.

Is Rizzoli & Isles becoming an allegory for the War on Terror?

Rizzoli: “We don’t give in to fear.”

Oh my god, it is!

Rizzoli: “Murder never brings any peace, to the living or the dead.”

Never mind.

Rizzoli: “The suspect is shooting from a fanny pack!”

Reason to love J.K. Simmons, Number Five Million

Pope: “Where’d I go to college?”

Howard: “Back East.”

Pope: “Stanford. What’d I get my Master’s in?”

Howard: “Umm.”

Pope: “Never mind. How old are my kids?”

Howard: “…”

Pope: “Yeah right, they picked you ’cause we’re so tight.”

A Single Deep Thought

On every single cop show this week, a significant chunk of time was detectives looking at screens: watching security camera footage, or trying to figure out if a suspect was lying, or typing on computers reconstructing statistics. On Rizzoli & Isles, Korsak and Frost literally spent the episode just talking to Rizzoli on the phone and watching the marathon on TV, trying to find something suspicious. The whole process of detection now feels incredibly far removed from the essential thrill of the genre: watching someone walk into a crime scene and slowly undress the clues, right in front of your very eye. (Except for the profanity, this famous Wire scene is basically just Holmes and Watson chatting their way through a murder.)

That’s part of the reason why I prefer a show like The Closer – which centers on Brenda slowly breaking through a suspect’s resolve – to Flashpoint, which is basically people running around, screaming into their radio, while Scarlatti solves the mystery from the squad car.

Out-of-context Line of the Week

“I’m just reading my grandmother’s diary that I found in my missing father’s safe.”

Lie To Me

What procedurals were you loving this week, PopWatchers?

The Closer

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