'Golden Boy' offers cheap thrills, but no substance
It looks like CBS’s new “Golden Boy” has only striking good looks to offer audiences.
The new series “Golden Boy,” created and produced by Nicholas Wootton (“NYPD Blue” and “Chuck”), premiered Feb. 26 starring Theo James as Detective Walter William Clark Jr.
James plays a young, pretty-boy rookie cop struggling as he climbs the bureaucratic ladder, eventually reaching his ultimate career goal against all odds. The story is told through a series of flash-forwards and flashbacks, focusing mostly on the past and how Clark becomes the youngest commissioner in New York Police Department history, seven years later.
In the pilot episode, Clark takes a promotion to homicide detective after saving some civilians and his partner in a robbery shoot out — a standard cliché of many cop shows — not to mention just how underwhelming and cheesy this ordinary shootout scene was to witness. Supposedly, this scene was meant to establish Clark as a hero, but I wasn’t convinced.
Now the talk of the town, Clark starts to receive media attention and praise for his valiant efforts in the force. Clark gets a little cocky, but his veteran colleagues in the homicide division don’t hesitate to rain on his parade. No one likes a show off at the office, so naturally, the other detectives neglect to take Clark seriously.
Sound like a pretty good story? I suppose it is. However, the show’s biggest problem, like so many other worthless cop shows, is the awkward mix of distinguished, decent and just flat out dreadful actors. Considering Wootton’s excellent track record, it comes as a surprise that CBS producers haven’t gotten the hint that you can’t have a show with one really well known, fantastic actor to make up for all the other bad and ineffective acting. Chi McBride is obviously this show’s crutch.
McBride’s acting career has mostly consisted of playing supporting characters, so casting him was a smart move. McBride never fails to give a good performance, even in his most insignificant roles. In the show, McBride plays Don Owen, Clark’s new partner in the homicide division. Owen, being a veteran, has some wise lessons to share with his reluctant new partner. Clark doesn’t want advice from anyone because he thinks he already has set the bar for excellence.
It seems like creators of the show were going for the same old, wise black man versus the young, hot headed white rookie as in David Fincher’s “Se7en,” just much less exciting and not as compelling. Ironically, Owen even makes a reference to that film with his line, “Who do I look like, Morgan Freeman?”
The fact of the matter is, there isn’t enough happening in the show that distinguishes it from all the other failed cop shows. Despite some witty humor, nothing about this story is compelling enough to attract fans of TNT’s super successful cop show “Southland.” With James coming from “Downton Abbey,” one would expect a more interesting performance. Looks like young and ambitious isn’t a role meant to be played by James.
The “Pilot” episode ends with some more clues about what to expect next in the series. We know there eventually will be a shootout at the police station — probably the season finale to keep audiences tuned in. However, come next spring, we could all expect a new show with the same dull storyline.
Erica Laub is a film and media studies and sociology junior