“L.A.’s FINEST” AND “FILTHY RICH” START FOX FALL SEASON
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“L.A.’s FINEST” AND “FILTHY RICH” ON FOX NETWORK The opportunity to launch new series on network television was going to be a dicey proposition during a pandemic that has curtailed original television productions. The FOX network has the good fortune of being able to fill the void by having had midseason shows in the can that never aired or picking up a series that ran on a platform which lacked wider distribution. The latter is the case for “L.A.’s Finest,” a new series on FOX that had its season last year on Spectrum Originals’ subscriber service, which does not have the same reach as a network, sort of like community theatre not being on the same level as Broadway.If you are familiar with the Jerry Bruckheimer “Bad Boys” films, you will quickly grasp the gender-flip of this spin-off in the “L.A.’s Finest” series, with one primary character, Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union), relocated from Miami to the Los Angeles Police Department.Robbery-Homicide LAPD detective Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba) gets paired up with Syd, and the two of them make a formidable team that is hell-bent on taking down garden-variety criminals as well as drug cartels.
Nancy, usually called McKenna by her peers, and Syd have an unusual chemistry, where they work well together in policing but have conflicts over secrets they harbor, some of which would endanger their careers and home life. The two women prove to be tough in takedowns of thugs, but they also lighten the mood at times, such as responding to a convenience store holdup while bantering amusingly about not missing family book club. At home, working mother Nancy grapples with rebellious stepdaughter Isabel (Sophie Reynolds), while her husband Patrick (Ryan McPartlin), an assistant district attorney, is on a path to career advancement.However, Nancy has a complicated past with some shady characters, including drug dealer Dante Sherman (Barry Sloane) who seeks to rekindle their relationship. Her complex history may well pose a threat to her husband’s political ambition. As counterparts to their female colleagues, officers Ben Walker (Zach Gilford) and Ben Barnes (Duane Martin) sometimes work alongside them, often with the expected trash-talking as competitors to nab credit for arrests.Another angle to Syd’s web of troubled relationships is the fact that her absentee father, Joseph Vaughn (Ernie Hudson), who had a dubious career in law enforcement, tries to engage in her life to warn against her worst impulses. What worries Syd’s father, as well as her partner Nancy, is that she recklessly pursues the ghost of an elusive drug lord named Gabriel Knox, a criminal so vicious he strikes fear with his own cohorts.“L.A.’s Finest” delivers plenty of nicely staged action sequences, from shootouts and fiery explosions to the obligatory car chases. That action and the chemistry of the bad girl duo might be enough to carry the day.
Netflix is still streaming the “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” documentary. Meanwhile, FOX has debuted its own “Filthy Rich,” which thankfully has nothing to do with the despicable sexual deviant and his unfortunate victims.Based on a New Zealand series of the same name, which likely means nothing to just about everybody, “Filthy Rich” is portrayed by the network as a “Southern Gothic family soap in which wealth, power and religion collide.”This description is as accurate as a publicist would wish, and then even more so. The mega-rich Monreaux family has built a Louisiana-based televangelist empire known as the Sunshine Network run by the patriarch Eugene (Gerald McRaney).In the first episode, Eugene is presumably dead after his plane crashes somewhere in the swampy Bayou country. This leaves his widow Margaret (Kim Cattrall) to take over, even though the son Eric (Corey Cott) fancies himself able to take the reins. Meanwhile, the family, including daughter Rose (Aubrey Dollar) along with trusted counselor Franklin Lee (Steve Harris), is thrown for a huge loop when the reading of Eugene’s will reveals dark secrets. With the apparent morals of an alley cat, Eugene fathered three illegitimate children, each one with a different mother. Feeling possible pangs of guilt, Eugene’s will provides an inheritance for those kids.
Enter a motley crew of love children into the family. The most appreciative one is Antonio (Benjamin Levy Aguilar), a single dad aspiring to be an MMA fighter. The other two are weed dealer Jason (Mark L. Young) and online sex worker Ginger (Melia Kreiling).Of course, Margaret frets that the scandal of the out of wedlock children would forever taint the television ministry, and with good reason. Hence, she proffers a tidy cash settlement to avert the shame and humiliation. As you would expect, neatly tidying up a disgraceful situation is not in the cards. The savvy Ginger proves all too eager to press an advantage that might boost her own enterprise.Would watching the dramatic conflicts play out on “Filthy Rich” prove entertaining? It might depend on one’s thirst to enjoy the kind of soap opera that has seemingly run its course.