Reviewed by: Edgar
(see also the Once Upon a Time, Orange is the New Black,
and True Blood podcasts)
Who: “Wicked City” is a procedural crime drama that aired on ABC during the 2015-2016 television season.
What: “Wicked City,” a drama that focuses on two Los Angeles Police Department detectives (Jeremy Sisto and Gabriel Luna) as they search for a pair of romantically-linked serial killers (Ed Westwick and Erika Christensen) terrorizing the Sunset Strip. The main cast also includes Taissa Farmiga, Karolina Wydra, Evan Ross, Anne Winters, and Jaime Ray Newman.
When: The first and only season of Wicked City aired on ABC from October 27, 2015, through December 2, 2015, when the presumed series finale, the fifth of eight produced episodes, aired. Wicked City was canceled on November 13, 2015.
Where: The action is set in Los Angeles, California, in the year 1982.
Why: While Chief Couch Potato Kylie passed on this show during CPU!’s annual pilot shopping extravaganza (read: here), I chose to watch this show because of the cast. Ed Westwick was amazing in Gossip Girl, and Erika Christensen made me laugh in Parenthood.
How – as in How Was It?
The pilot/premiere rating scale:
***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING. HOLY SMOKES!
**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing. I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.
*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens. There are things I like, and things I don’t. We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.
** – I will give it three episodes. Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together. No matter how unlikely.
* – Pass on this one, guys. It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.
Wicked City = **
Wicked City was initially conceived as a season-by-season examination of a different case set in a different noteworthy era of LA history, starting with a murder case from 1982 centered on the rock and roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip. Alliances are formed between detectives, reporters, drug dealers, and club-goers to solve a serial murder case.
What first made me watch this show is the cast, for people like Ed Westwick and Erika Christiansen; however, as I was watching, I immediately noticed that the cast fell flat. The acting was sub-par, even though the story was built up well.
Wicked City was designed to be about a serial killer that performs his killings in a specific or unique way. For example, in the episodes I viewed, every time the murderer in question goes in for the kill, he requests a song on the radio, which was both an interesting and a captivating idea.
What made this show fall short, in my opinion however, is that its major conceit has been done – over and over and over, both in film and in television. I feel that if a television show like Wicked City attempts to repeat a concept done before, and one that has been done often, it should be done well and preferably better (or at least differently) than last time.
Wicked City reminded me of Dexter, in the sense that the program offered a killer that viewers were meant to love and hate at the same time. Kent (Westwick), the primary killer in Wicked City, is very similar to Dexter (Michael C. Hall) because they both exude charm that offers likability and demands sympathy, even though they commit murderous acts.
Because Wicked City was so much like Dexter as well as several other crime-based shows like Law and Order, Criminal Minds, etc., it became predictable quickly, which means it became boring quickly. Wicked City is a procedural, which means the audience is meant to solve the crime along with other characters; however, with this show, it was easy to be a step ahead of the other characters. What’s more, Wicked City offered nothing new or original to entice viewers to remain engaged.
It does not surprise me that this show has been canceled, given the middling performances and predictable, overdone premise. I believe that if Wicked City had lasted a whole season, I would have stopped watching after season one finished, despite the show’s solid cast. After all, there will be other crime procedural shows that will attempt to join the leagues of the classic Law and Order or Criminal Minds; hopefully, they will be worthy enough not to be killed off so quickly.
I cannot recommend Wicked City in good conscience to people who truly love television because the show itself fell flat. Fans of this type of television would do better to watch the original Law and Order, which has story lines that keep the viewer guessing, or Dexter, if the viewer is looking for TV about charismatic serial killers.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:
Canceled! ABC canceled Wicked City in November 2015. There is no word yet on whether ABC will air the remaining three un-aired but produced episodes. Wicked City can currently be viewed in its entirety on Hulu but, likely, only for a limited time, given the show’s cancellation. Watch it at your own risk, with that in mind!