I know what you're thinking. It's another one of those 'Give this Show a Shot' pieces. Backstrom, right? The one with the detective who hates ... just about everyone. Do we really need another show with a 'loveable' irascible male lead? Didn't FOX learn anything from Rake? And ok, you may get a guilty giggle about how non-PC it all is, but that's no basis for a whole hour's commitment once a week, is it? Maybe you'll DVR it. Maybe you won't. What else is airing on Thursday?
What if I told you that you were making a mistake? Not just you, but a whole marketing team in fact? What if the show is not about what you think it's about? Because, in case you're in any doubt, that is essentially what I'm telling you.
Backstrom is actually one of the most nuanced, sensitive and smart new dramas on air, but there's no way you'd know that unless you've seen a handful of episodes, and if you've been put off by a series of cheeky, un-politically correct promo trailers, then chances are, you never will.
Here then are 5 honest reasons to give this show your time on Thursday.
3. What ‘Supporting’ Cast?
Could we go back to that Orson Welles press release from 1941 for a moment? Another thing Welles spoke about when promoting Citizen Kane was the idea that each of the people who knew his protagonist Kane only saw one facet of his personality.
Welles said “I wished to make a motion picture which was not a narrative of action so much as an examination of character. For this, I desired a man of many sides and many aspects. It was my idea to show that six or more people could have as many widely divergent opinions concerning the nature of a single personality.”
Backstrom is bursting with unique characters, each with a very different relationship with a man who is on the surface, immensely unlikable. And like Welles’ Kane, each character highlights a different facet of his fractured personality.
Why does Sergeant Peter Niedermayer (Kristoffer Polaha) adore Backstrom, while the belaboured Detective Nicole Gravely (Genevieve Angelson) fears that working with him may ultimately cost her a job? Is civilian contractor Nadia Paquet (Beatrice Rosen) actually attracted to Backstrom, or is that just a figment of his imagination? Will the straight talking Frank Moto (Page Kennedy) manage to instil a modicum of decorum into Backstrom’s modus operandi, and is the firm but fair Detective Sergeant John Almond (Dennis Haysbert) the father figure Everett should have had as a child?
Backstrom has pretty much dispensed with the idea that peripheral characters should remain on the periphery as exposition devices. These fully realized characters are not just fun to watch, but serve to subtly push that “examination of character” that Welles spoke about.
On the whole that’s pretty clever.