DETECTIVE TV SERIES “CARTER” AND LIFETIME’S DRAMA TV FILMS
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“CARTER” ON WGN AMERICA The end of summer turns out to be the graveyard for the release of new movies. Nothing major looks to be on the horizon until after Labor Day. Cable networks try to fill the void with new series and WGN America brings us the Canadian series “Carter.”
Jerry O’Connell stars in the titular role as a Hollywood TV star by the name of Harley Carter who plays a fictional detective in the television crime procedural “Call Carter,” in which his screen name is Charlie Carter. Harley’s career goes on hiatus after an embarrassing moment on the red carpet is caught on tape by one of those tabloid entertainment TV shows. He retreats to his hometown in Canada where people mostly call him Charlie and pester him for help to solve crimes.
One of his childhood friends, Sam (Sydney Poitier Heartsong), is on the police force in the town of Bishop, a small community that seemingly has a lot of crime for which Harley offers unsolicited advice based on his fictional sleuthing. Another old friend, Dave (Kristian Bruun), runs a coffee truck, which makes him the caricature of the informant who knows what’s happening on the streets. Witty and sarcastic, Dave enjoys needling Harley because of some old lingering grudge.
Much to her annoyance, Sam starts to find that Harley’s goofball theories about the criminal acts of suspects are not so far off the mark. Of course, the competitive relationship between these two old friends becomes a bit flirtatious on a personal level. Hardly past the first episode, the premise of “Carter” started to remind me of other shows, including the Canadian procedural, “Private Eyes,” which stars Jason Priestley as a pro hockey player who hooks up with an attractive partner to go into the detective business.
Not that there was anything inherently wrong about Priestley’s turn, but Jerry O’Connell slips very comfortably into his quirky role of the amateur detective who operates solely on the basis of intuition gleaned from a hit TV series. Once Harley proves his worth and as ridiculous as it sounds, the town’s mayor wants to make him a “consulting detective.” Well, you can imagine how distasteful this proposal is to the chief of police who constantly threatens to lock up Harley for meddling at crime scenes.
Granted, “Carter” may not be great television destined to run for years. Yet, Jerry O’Connell’s character exudes boyish charm that makes the show a pleasant diversion.
LIFETIME CABLE’S FALL LINEUP OF TV FILMS
Lifetime has plans for an ambitious fall schedule of original movies that drop under the realm of a parent’s worst nightmare, tackling topics like mental health, suicide and teen domestic dating violence. The TV films start off with “The Bad Seed,” which reinvents the iconic 1956 psychological horror film. Rob Lowe stars as a single father who seems to have everything under control until a tragedy takes place at his daughter Emma’s (Mckenna Grace) school.
The father is forced to question everything he thought he knew about his beloved child but slowly begins to question whether Emma’s exemplary behavior is a façade. Patty McCormack, who had the child’s role in the original film, stars as the psychiatrist who treats Emma.
“No One Would Tell,” a remake of a 1996 TV movie, explores the physical and emotional abuse in teen relationships. Shannen Doherty’s Laura is the single mom to Sarah (Matreya Scarrwener), who dates the charismatic Rob (Callan Porter). When Sarah goes missing, Laura must fight for justice for Sarah when it turns out Rob has a dark, possessive side and has to be brought to a trial presided over by a powerful judge (Mira Sorvino).
Inspired by a true story, “Conrad and Michelle: If Words Could Kill” reveals the tragic tale of Conrad Roy (Austin P. McKenzie), who was encouraged to commit suicide via text messages from his girlfriend, Michelle Carter (Bella Thorne) Michelle and Conrad, two troubled souls, had a toxic relationship of dependency shared mainly by text messages. After encouraging the suicidal Conrad to take his life, Michelle ends up on trial and convicted of manslaughter for using words that result in tragedy.
“Believe Me: The Lisa McVey Story” is the true story of Lisa McVey (Katie Douglas) who was abducted and able to escape her captor only to have police and family question the validity of her claims. Only a veteran detective finds credence in the details of Lisa’s story and his subsequent investigation brings about the realization that her abductor is the notorious serial killer that the Tampa police are hotly pursuing.
The dark, psychological drama “The Girl in the Bathtub” is inspired by the true story of Julia Law (Caitlin Stasey), a young paralegal who was found dead in the bathtub of her boss, a prominent Philadelphia attorney (Jason Patric). The investigation of her death gets complicated by the fact that the boss was just of one of her three lovers, thereby raising questions about whether any of them may have had a motive to kill her.