‘Golden Boy’ lacks the gleam of a shiny new cop show
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org February 25, 2013 7:44PM
Walter Clark Jr. (Theo James, left) is partnered with and mentored by experienced veteran Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride, right) in the new CBS drama GOLDEN BOY. GOLDEN BOY, premieres Tuesday, February 26 (10:00 Ã¢ÂÂ 11:00 PM, ET/PT), with a special sneak peak episode, on the CBS Television Network. This photo is provided for use in conjunction with the TCA WINTER PRESS TOUR 2012. Photo: Warwick Saint/CBS ÃÂ©2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved
‘GOLDEN BOY’ ★★
9 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays until March 8, when it moves to its regular 8 p.m. Friday time slot on WBBM-Channel 2
Updated: March 27, 2013 6:17AM
The new police procedural “Golden Boy” is the story of an ambitious cop’s speedy ascent up the NYPD ladder.
“In seven years Walter Clark will be the youngest police commissioner in the history of New York City,” a This-Is-Important voice says at the beginning of the second episode. “This is his story.”
As the heavy-handed tone implies, Clark’s story is presented as an epic one. But this overly earnest treatment winds up having the opposite effect, giving the CBS show an air of premature self-importance it hasn’t yet earned.
“Golden Boy” alternates between two time periods. One is the present day, when on-the-job heroics win Clark a spot on a homicide task force that isn’t thrilled to have him. The other is seven years in the future, after Clark has climbed to the top of the department’s ranks. Future Clark walks with an ominous limp — one of several not-so-subtle hints that his meteoric rise came with a hefty price tag.
Clark is played by British actor Theo James, best known for his brief stint as Lady Mary’s dashing but short-lived lover Pamuk in “Downton Abbey.”
A more credible casting choice was made in filling the role of Clark’s partner, veteran homicide detective Don Owen, portrayed by former Chicago West Sider Chi McBride (“Boston Public,” “Human Target”).
“He’s just trying to get through the next two years without getting shot,” said McBride, who lends the perfect amount of dry wit and world-weariness to the role. “What Walter does is he awakens the cop that used to live in Owen.”
A couple of polar opposite cops forced into a partnership, only to find they have so much to learn from one another. It’s one of the oldest tropes in police dramas — a genre that’s so well-worn by now, it’s difficult to come up with a cop show that feels innovative or fresh.
That doesn’t bother McBride.
“Here’s the thing about new and different: The only people who want something new and different are television critics,” he said. “The reason cop shows are so popular is there’s so much to mine. I didn’t have any trepidation about it. I only cared about whether it was any good.”
Good was what I was expecting given the show’s pedigree. Creator Nicholas Wootton has had plenty of experience in justice-themed storytelling with “Law & Order” and “NYPD Blue.” Co-executive producer and Northwestern alum Greg Berlanti’s lengthy list of credits includes the CW hit “Arrow” along with “Brothers & Sisters” and “Everwood.”
I only have two episodes of “Golden Boy” to go by, but nothing so far has convinced me that this is a show that can live up to its own lofty idea of itself. It’s just another police procedural pretending to be something bigger, and I don’t feel all that compelled to stick around and watch this golden boy grow up.