Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The most ridiculous cop show currently on the air

If I were to write a spoof of a typical hour procedural I could not possibly come up with anything more absurd than TAXI BROOKLYN. This show has been airing on NBC on Wednesdays this summer although originally it was a French show. NBC has found a new way to not hire US writers – just buy shows from France and Sweden. I wouldn’t be surprised if next year they shoot AMERICA’S GOT TALENT in Belgium.

In France TAXI BROOKLYN’S premier drew 5.37 million viewers. In the U.S. it attracted 5.34 million. By comparison, the population of France is 65.7 million and in the United States 318.6 mil. And yet, more people still watched in France.

Out of curiosity I checked out an episode ON DEMAND. I sat with my jaw on the ground for an hour.

Here’s the premise: A hot-looking Brooklyn detective with a Peter Pan bob and the requisite TV grit loses her driving privileges somehow and enlists the help of an illegal alien cab driver to chauffer her around while she solves crimes. She wouldn’t just be paired with another cop who would drive? No, a better option, and one apparently sanctioned by the NYPD, is to have their officers protect the city in taxis. What police detective needs a ride to a homicide? Of course the driver becomes her de facto partner. Peter Pan and Latka fight crime.

How do you pitch that with a straight face?

Beyond that, this show has every possible procedural cliché. Seriously. They don’t miss a one. She comes from a family of cops. Her father was mysteriously murdered and she’s trying to crack the case. Her superiors are hiding something from her. Her ex is an FBI agent who may or may not be in bed with the bad guys. She dresses real butch but off duty is “all girl.” She is highly respected by the other stereotype detectives in the squad room. Of course none of them respect her enough to give her a lift once in awhile.

If there’s ever a taxi strike Brooklyn would be overrun by mobsters.

Cat (that’s her name – Cat) was also in some accident it seems. But in some scenes she’s on crutches and others she walks just fine but with a cane.

Again I ask, is that the best New York’s Finest can do? A cripple in a cab? Oh, and there’s no disability coverage for cops?

The episode I saw was one cliché after another. The mother of a foster home is murdered. Oh, those poor kids. Who would murder such a saint? SPOILER ALERT: did you say one of the kids? Did you say the least likely one? You of course would be right.

One of the kids is a smart-ass. He escapes the police station. How? A window in the bathroom of course. The captain yells at Cat to find him, as if this was all her fault. So they go searching, which allows for the obligatory “character banter” between Cat and cabbie. I forgot what it was about (while watching it). They find the kid (big surprise) on a road in New Jersey. The kid pleads for Cat to let him visit his dear sweet aunt. Cat says to him, “Don’t move” and she goes off with Latka to consider his request. This after five hours of searching for him. Does the kid stay still? What do you think? Oh no. He steals the cab. She’s not only hobbled, she’s also addled.


The kid eventually confesses that the foster mother was really Cruella DeVille to the utter shock of Cat (although viewers figured that out before the opening credits). Why couldn’t the kid confess this originally? It would have saved a lot of wear and tear on the cab.

I don’t know the fate of TAXI BROOKLYN. It’s NBC so if it does better than SEAN SAVES THE WORLD it might get renewed. But if it’s cancelled I’m getting on a plane and flying to Norway so I could pitch NBC my can’t-miss police drama – A hot no nonsense cop teams with a Gray Line sightseeing tour bus driver,

“Hey folks, we’re going to see the Statue of Liberty but first we have to go on this high-speed chase through Canarsie.”

I wonder if Chloe Sevigny would be willing to cut her hair.


Scooter Schechtman said...

Safe to guess there won't be any stop-and-frisk references or "officer-involved" killings. Police will always have a willing fluffer with cop shows, even without Chloe Sevigny.

Dan Ball said...

Haha, this reminds me of the Simpsons' KNIGHT RIDER rag, KNIGHT BOAT: THE CRIME-SOLVING BOAT.

Announcer: We now return to "Knightboat: the Crime-Solving Boat".
Michael: Faster, Knightboat! We gotta catch those starfish poachers.
Knightboat: You don't have to yell, Michael, I'm all around you.
Michael: Oh, no! They're headed for land. We'll never catch them now.
Knightboat: Incorrect: look! A canal.
Homer: Go, Knightboat, go!
Bart: Oh, every week there's a canal.
Lisa: Or an inlet.
Bart: Or a fjord.
Homer: Quiet! I will not hear another word against the boat.

unkystan said...

I've actually been watching this nonsense because it's summer...I'm bored and I despise any kind of reality programming. That said, Taxi Brooklyn (does that title even make sense?) is so horribly inept that it is actually entertaining. Unlike poor Kelsey Grammer's terrible new comedy, which is just sad.

Rachel said...

The actress playing Cat injured her foot while filming the show so she needed the cane. They put that into the story. . How? In episode 3 I think, cabbie ran over her foot.


emily said...



Anonymous said...

I don't know why, but when you wrote illegal alien, my mind only saw alien for a few lines. I was thinking of a show with say Mork or Alf driving the cop around.

After that review I am thinking that perhaps that actually might be an improvement.


Thomas H said...

Dan Ball: that was a direct reference to Thunder in Paradise, surely? The Baywatch team actually made a programme with that exact premise.

Dan Ball said...

Thomas H:

That seems entirely plausible, since TiP predates the "And Maggie Makes Three" episode that aired in '95. I remember TiP, but I don't know if the Simpsons were jabbing at that or Knight Rider equally or what. It's a great gag either way and I don't put it past today's writers to take something like that seriously.

Dan Ball said...

Thomas H:

That seems entirely plausible, since TiP predates the "And Maggie Makes Three" episode that aired in '95. I remember TiP, but I don't know if the Simpsons were jabbing at that or Knight Rider equally or what. It's a great gag either way and I don't put it past today's writers to take something like that seriously.

Paul said...

Just so you know, because France is an very different market with one very dominant broadcaster, TF1, who airs Taxi Brooklyn, 5.37 million for the premiere is actually below average. And the ratings kept falling after that. However, because internationnal coproductions is a different world (where nothing makes sense), a 14-episodes second season has already been ordered.

Also: for the 12-episodes first season, there's only one french writer. The showrunner and other writers are all american. The sad truth is that those kind of shows are a way for France's TF1 to do series without hiring french writers, and not the other way around.

Geoff G said...

It took several episodes of The Soup for me to realize this show was a real thing.

Marty Fufkin said...

That's one of your best reviews. You captured the absurdity so well and made me laugh.

Now, if you really want to see real police in a great cop show, you have to check out The Wire. I know the DVDs are sitting in a box on a shelf somewhere in your home. Any inkling to check it out yet?

Chester said...

Luc Besson is credited for writing 8 episodes of "Taxi Brooklyn". According to Imdb, it's based loosely on his 1998 film "Taxi" which was remade in the US in 2004 (with Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah.)

Besson is certainly milking this one to death by the looks of it.

m said...

If they'd cast Judd Hirsch or Christopher Lloyd to drive, they might have a show. Robin

Covarr said...

I'm still annoyed that 2009's THE UNUSUALS didn't get renewed. It wasn't the most original show on TV, but the characters were likable and it had real heart to it, which is more than can be said about a lot of shows.

I blame the scheduling. Trying to put a new quirky cop show up against CSI: NY and LAW & ORDER on Wednesday nights was just begging for failure.

PolyWogg said...

It doesn't strike me as odd a premise, as it seems to me a lower-rent version of Castle.

a. Detective Cat chases cop father's murderer vs. Kate Beckett chases lawyer mother's murderer;

b. Procedural, crime of the week to solve for both;

c. Brilliant detective, no social life, same for both;

d. Non-police person thrust upon her -- Castle through mayoral connections and involvement in first case; Cabbie through witness/victim in first case, knows other victims, and Cat busted to foot patrol;

e. Outside partner provides outside perspective -- cabbie has criminal background, knows the city, has informants; Castle has "mystery" mindset, has access to contacts in different circles from time to time;

f. Hint of police corruption / involvement in big case.

So many of the procedurals today seem to require that "quirky" pitch -- you can't have just a regular detective, you need someone who has mental problems, addiction problems, family issues, or a cockatoo on their shoulder (oh, wait, maybe not that last one). Just as the "pure" cop shows have to deal with the massive internal personality conflicts between cops rather than focusing on the case. The L&O franchise went the other way, but had the hand-off to lawyers mid-way which was an effective formula for them. CSI went for the science bent.

I have seen worse schlock than Taxi Brooklyn, but it also suffers from low production value -- one of the credits said "Last week on Taxy Brooklyn" plus their promos showed a lot of scenes that were not in the episodes that followed! Including a disappearing reappearing disappearing sniper apparently.

While the initial premise is obviously stupid, the rest of the elements could work with more polish. The cabbie has a strong Eddie Murphy / 48 Hours look and feel to his character, but then it descends into the philosopher cabbie (like how to handle kids in the episode you saw). Fortunately, it won't be around long enough to fix...I'm sure there's a reality show to air.


Todd Everett said...

The French "Taxi" films -= there were a number of them, all comedies -- were enormously successful. I've only seen the first two, but enjoy them a lot (but Luc Besson is one of my personal faves among filmmakers).

Attempts to import it to the U.S. have been less successful -- the movie was poor, and (even though Besson has a hand in it) has most of the comedic elements removed.

I still watch it, but mainly because I like the stars.

Steve Z said...

I'm waiting for Uber Cop.

Igor said...

I agree with PolyWogg - It's a reworking of "Castle".

I recently stumbled upon an episode of "Castle" on late-night syndication and - even allowing for the show's premise - the plot didn't seem credible within its own terms.

The episode is titled "The Limey", in which a UK cop is in NY to find whoever killed the daughter of a friend of his. Turns out, the suspect is an official at the UK Consulate in NY.

This UK cop has connections back in the UK to get all sorts of info, and even to get himself and what's-her-name into a party at the consulate, and yet...

The only way to get the fingerprints of this UK official who's the suspect... is to go to the party, go through all sorts of maneuvers... so they can get a drink glass with this guy's actual fingerprints.

IOW, somehow this UK cop can't simply ask an official back in the UK to e-mail a copy of this official's prints. Plus, there were lots more absurdities like that - sometimes, the UK cop could do anything; other times, could not tie his own laces.

The key to this sort of show APPARENTLY is to just have characters that meet cute, and then make 'em so audience likes em.

As for the credibility of the premise... You might as well try to convince the Emperor he's naked. (Oh, there's a show to pitch: "Dating Naked - Royalty Edition".)

Beyond that...? Plot holes, schmata holes.

Julie G. said...

Amen. It didn't even take me 20 minutes of watching this drivel to remove it from my Tivo season pass. How bad does a show have to be in order to get pulled off the air? I can't imagine a show that could have a more bizarre storyline.

Igor said...


Ken, let's say you somehow simply had to pitch "Taxi Brooklyn", how would you do it?

Or how do you envision an actual pitch for this?

Do you start with, "Now, the setup is a bit wacky, but..." Or do you just pitch it, knowing the person you're pitching to knows it's wacky and so no one mentions it - because in that universe those "issues" are not actual issues?

Yes, "Alf" was a sitcom and this is a 1-hour procedural, but is there really any difference - at least these days?

Carol said...

Igor - don't dis Castle. It's a good show that has entertaining and sometimes thrilling stories, but never professed to be taken too seriously.

Some episodes are better than others, and I think you stumbled on one that was less than stellar (but still fun). Watch Vampire Weekend for a good episode. (First series episode)

Generally yeah, it's a meet cute, a THEY FIGHT CRIME silly show, but it's fun and entertaining and well written and acted.

As far as Taxi Brooklyn...I had no idea it was even a thing. I wonder how the actors feel when they are in a show like that. I imagine for many of them this is their first 'big break', so maybe they just don't notice the badness?

David said...

Carol, for most actors, "badness" is usually outweighed by the promise of a paycheck.

17db87ec-8cdb-11e3-9c7e-000bcdcb2996 said...

Wait a sec...this stars "Little Grey"? Sorry, I don't care how bad it is, I'm hooking up the drool cup and binge watching.

graham guit said...

Are you aware that US TV shows (and not just the good ones) are flooding the airwaves all over the world?

D. McEwan said...

All I've seen of this show (Or ever will see) are the clips on The Soup, which seem also to show that it has terrible acting. Truely mind-boggling, but it's still better than Under The Dome.

The summer show Motive is a Canadian show that's been on for a while up there already. Our season 1 is actually season 2 (Which makes the uber-plot about the cop's reluctance to be a character witness against her former-partner/now-boss incomprehensible.) But the show itself is not bad at all. It does at least appear to take place on this planet.

Igor said...

Carol, I getcha.

But if they had simply had the UK cop say, "No, I couldn't get his prints, but I did get us an invite to the party tonight." That would still be absurd in the real world, but then at least the writers/producers are trying to be consistent in the show's world.

Instead, it seems they just wanted to put what's-her-name in a nice dress (and nice it was) and have her flirt with the consular official/suspect in order to get a glass with the guy's prints - and otherwise didn't care if it made plot sense. I know this isn't a Law & Order series, but if they think they're making a good crime-mystery-with comedy show, at least make some effort with the crime-mystery part. It's not as if Remington Steele set the bar all that high.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot worse on the air. There are appealing attributes to this show. It may not be written like you might, but respectfully that doesn't make it garbage.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The quirky, damaged genius who solves crimes goes all the way back to the original amateur detective, Sherlock Holmes. So does the non-police, outsider sidekick (Watson had medical knowledge, which was occasionally helpful, but mostly he was there for Sherlock to explain stuff to). So saying it's a copy of *CASTLE* is kind of absurd: they're *all* pastiches of Sherlock Holmes.

That said, a friend of mine actually likes this show.


Austin said...

They won't "renew" the show, they will "keep the meter running".

Andreia Blue said...

I'm sorry to hear that this has American writers. If it was written by French writers, especially ones who had never who had been to America, it might be fun.

Ron Rettig said...

After 1 viewing I nixed Taxi Brooklyn. After 2 viewings ofThe Bridge I decided I'd like to see the no doubt much better Swedish original.

Cap'n Bob said...

Actually, Sherlock Holmes was a professional detective, and he was preceded by Arsine Lupine.

cadavra said...

In fairness, "Cat" is short for "Catherine" and the reason she uses the cab is because she's wrecked so many police cars in high-speed chases that none of the other cops will ride with her anymore. Riding with the cabbie (whom she initially detested) was considered punishment. Flimsy, perhaps, but at least they did attempt a justification for it. (This was all in the pilot, of course.)

Lairbo said...

A police chief who couldn't get his license and was driven around in a cab was a running gag in the movie "Funny Farm", a Chevy Chase vehicle (as it were) from the '80.

Also, I used to live in a B'klyn neighborhood where the local precinct was known as F-Troop and the street the station was on was lined with smashed up patrol cars.

Jeffro said...

I haven't been watching it, but maybe others are because it falls into the "it's so bad that it's good to watch" category. E's The Soup has been razzing it all summer, and just based on the clips that they've shown, from the looks of it, with the dialog and the frugal production value, it could very well be made by the same people who make the Sharknado movies. So that might explain how fits into the aforementioned category.


Jeffro said...

Also, after looking up the actress' photo gallery on IMDB, that "Peter Pan bob" was the best thing she could have done for herself. Looking at some older pics of her with long(er) hair, she looks remarkably plain, while the pixie cut makes her much more alluring.

Cheerio (again),

Albert Giesbrecht said...

All they need to do is to take a wrong turn in the cab, and end up in Dog River, Saskatchewan, and have a chilli dog at the Ruby.

Yes, Corner Gas is being made into a movie!

Barry Traylor said...

Thank you ever so much Ken for having the courage to watch this turkey so I do not have to do so. This makes PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE sound like a film classic on the order of CITIZEN KANE.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Cap'n Bob: Yes, Sherlock had precursors and contemporaries (btw, Jacques Futrelle's descendant has put all the Thinking Machine stories online), but I believe Conan Doyle invented the twofer (detective plus sidekick), and in any case, it's the most famous one and the most copied.

I believe Holmes described himself as an amateur although, granted, he took money to solve cases.


D. McEwan said...

Sherlock Holmes was an "Amateur" in that he was not a paid member of the police force. He was a "Professional" in that he made his living solving crimes for clients.

And even Doyle did not claim to have invented the detective story. He credited Poe's Dupin stories as an inspriration (Though he had Holmes, right off in his debut story, express disdain for Dupin). And Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone pre-dated Holmes as well, with a full-fledged sleuth solving a robbery. (It's quite a good book. I recommend it. Of course, I also recommend the Sherlock Holmes stories, which I've been reading and rereading all my life.)

Phantom Dreamer said...

She has a name, it's Chyler Leigh. She's been around for quite some time.

Famous! said...

Maybe not THAT far-fetched...

Know what kind of "unmarked" police vehicles good ol' NYPD is now using? You guessed it. Yellow, clearly marked as a legal taxi... and when the bad guys whiz by, you haven't lived until you've seen a yellow medallion cab light up red and purple inside, and start bleating at the traffic to move ya ass.