Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Kill Point Gets My Vote For Best New Show of the Summer

Mad Men is great, and Damages rocks, but my vote for best new show of the summer goes to Spike TV's The Kill Point.

Spike TV? Who would have thunk it?

This 10-part series, starring John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg as the leader of a group of bank robbers and the hostage negotiator, respectively, was absolutely riveting from beginning to end. It was a more literate, more morally complex, more thrilling version of 24, and I loved every single second of it.

It all starts with the writing. This show featured characters that were such specific shades of grey that you absolutely didn't know what to make of them -- in a surprisingly satisfying way. I found myself identifying and then re-identifying who were the bad guys, only to discover I was rooting for the hostage takers and not the law enforcement. It used the Iraq war not as a convenient character device, but as a scarily impactful experience that informed every move this group of soldiers made. And it made you feel the plight of the hostages, and the ways it brought a very different group of people together, in a way last year's failed series The Nine never could. Watching a hostage who had fallen in love with her captor bang on the building to get back in after she had been let go was heartbreaking. Simply put, the writing was absolutely top notch.

Then there was the acting. From the top down there was interesting work being done, beginning with the startlingly charismatic John Leguizamo. He was compassionate, scary, vulnerable, showy -- everything you could possibly hope for. I hope he is remembered at next year's Emmy Awards for Best Actor in a Miniseries. Wahlberg, too, was his usual sturdy self. It was also a kick to see several actors from The Wire, including JD Williams, my favorite Baltimore drug dealer.

But what makes this show earn my oh-so prestigious title of Best New Show is the fact that I never knew what was going to happen next. I watch a lot of tv -- I know the way things usually go. But The Kill Point didn't follow rules, and in so doing it kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the very end.

You go, Spike TV. Let's see what you got for us next.

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