Type of Pilot: Cop Drama
Similar Shows: Monk, Columbo, Criminal Intent, etc. Any detective show, basically, where the cop is a bit of a quirky misfit, who annoys suspects/witnessess/whoever, all the while having a great insight that allows him to solve the most baffling of crimes.
The Inner Light: Life was his sentence. Life is what he got back.
Strengths: Two strong lead actors.
Weaknesses: Seen this many, many times before.
Impressive Characters: Charlie Crews, the cop at the centre of this show, is a TV cliché but - if you can get past that - he is quite interesting, anyway. He's come out of prison spouting Zen-type wisdom, but - at the same time - he seems to wielding a very personal vendetta against the man who married his ex-wife.
Impressive Actors: Damian Lewis is rock-solid as the hero. He's likeable and watchable. He does a lot of good work with a character we've seen many times before. Sarah Shahi is perfectly cast as his partner. She's got a secret as well, which hopefully means she won't be relegated to the watching-while-Crews-solves-the-case role. The two of them have an excellent chemistry together and, by the end of the pilot, they have a great "partners-vibe" going on.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: Pretty much every other regular sucks: The business manager, the lawyer, the ex-wife, the ex-partner, the police superior. All of them get very brief, very broad scenes, that do nothing to endear them to the viewer.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: Adam Arkin, a truly fantastic actor, is wasted in a minor role in the pilot. It's crazy. This guy is series-lead material and he's given nothing to do, playing Crews' business manager (Crews is very very wealthy, you see). Hopefully, they will develop Arkin's character into more of a mentor to the hero, having more to do in future episodes. Likewise, Brooke Langton is capable of giving a lot more than she gets to do here. She's the lawyer/love-interest for the hero and her two/three scenes are very weak. So, maybe, future episodes will put meat on the bones of this character. She also gets to deliver the "Life was his sentence, and life is what he got back" line. Which is corny, and kinda rubbish. The only actor is really shines in a thankless part is Robin Weigert (from Lost & Deadwood) as the police superior, non-too-happy to have Crews in her squadroom, willing to use any tactic to get him off the force.
Continuity: SPOILER ALERT! While the cases will probably be self-contained, I suspect that the conspiracy side of things will advance in linear fashion. He's not just a quirky cop, you see, he's also investigating the people that put him in prison. Yes, it's a conspiracy show. Gone are the days of the One-Armed-Man being the killer. Now, thanks to shows like 24 and Prison Break, everything has to be a huge conspiracy.
Rewatchability: Zero. I was un-impressed on first viewing. I see no reason to go back and watch it again.
Other Info: Airs Wednesdays at 10, against CSI:NY and Dirty Sexy Money
Three Things I Really Don't Like About This Pilot:
The pilot was full of clips from a documentary about Charlie Crews. Every few minutes we were taken out of the action for a scene with one of the supporting characters, talking directly to camera about their part in the Charlie Crews story. His ex-wife, his ex-partner, his lawyer, etc. all got a chance to talk about the case.
Under-using Adam Arkin.
Under-using Brooke Langton.
A friend of mine, who is big into the Law & Order shows, as well as Monk and Columbo, absolutely loved this. So it definitely has an audience. I'm just not sure that I'm part of it. Yet.