NBC TV IN THE FALL; COMEDIC “MY SPY” FOLLOWS FAMILIAR PATH
A TV and Film Review by Tim Riley
THE NBC TV FALL SEASON
True for all major networks this fall season, the NBC network faces challenges for a schedule that could be affected by the pandemic. Especially worrisome just might be the Sunday night lineup.Programming for primetime Sunday relies on the NFL adhering to its announced program of pro football matchups for the network’s Sunday Night Football, which is preceded by Football Night in America’s highlights of the daytime games. With the Raiders in the new Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium and the Rams and Chargers at the new Los Angeles SoFi Stadium, the team owners and the league are banking on a season to showcase the state-of-the-art facilities.
Dick Wolf’s franchise “Chicago” series takes up all of Wednesday night, and new for this fall is a spinoff from his “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” That would be “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” starring Christopher Meloni reprising his “SVU” detective Elliot Stabler.Nearly a decade ago, Detective Stabler was written out of “SVU,” but now he’s back in a special unit of the NYPD leading a battle against organized crime after a devastating personal loss. What tragedy may have befallen Stabler is apparently not known at this time.
The network is touting the fact that Stabler must not only adapt to changes in the criminal justice system, but leading a task force to take down powerful criminal syndicates is a path to absolution and rebuilding his life.On “Special Victims Unit,” Meloni’s Stabler was partnered with Mariska Hargitay’s detective Olivia Benson, where they had great chemistry as a team. Chances are good for potential crossovers of the two “Law & Order” shows to reunite them.
Ted Danson’s run on “The Good Place” has come to an end, freeing him up to take the lead in “Mr. Mayor,” which looks to be a midseason comedy series. His role is described as a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. After winning the election, the mayor has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff, and connect with his teenage daughter. The last wealthy guy elected mayor of Los Angeles was Richard Riordan, but this is not his story.
“MY SPY” RATED PG-13 ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
An early casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic, “My Spy” had the misfortune of a planned theatrical release in mid-March just when movie theaters had to shut down. It’s now available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.Nothing is terribly spectacular about the premise of a hulking former wrestler paired up with a precocious child, as this has been done before with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena and other beefy characters.
Now it’s the turn of the heavily tattooed Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), a retired WWE wrestler, former mixed martial artist and bodybuilder. His brawn serves him well as hardened CIA agent JJ. The film is front-loaded with a heavy action scene in an abandoned Chernobyl site where JJ poses as an arms dealer negotiating with a renegade Russian general and a bunch of terrorists seeking a nuclear device.
All hell breaks loose as JJ goes full cowboy to wipe out all the bad guys and escape with the plutonium. The only problem is that he fails at his primary mission of finding out the plans of the terrorists. Back at the CIA headquarters in Langley, JJ gets dressed down by his boss David Kim (Ken Jeong) for botching the mission and for lacking covert spy skills which require subtlety, finesse and emotional intelligence.
His last chance at being an agent is a seemingly lightweight surveillance assignment in Chicago to monitor a widowed single mom Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), an ER nurse who lives with her nine-year-old daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman).An even worse part of the task is being teamed up with goofy CIA tech analyst Bobbi (Kristen Schaal), who desperately wants JJ to teach her the finer points of being a field agent.
The mission’s purpose is to catch Kate’s nefarious brother-in-law (Greg Bryk), an international terrorist who may come looking for something left behind by Kate’s deceased husband. After planting high-tech cameras in the apartment of their targets, JJ and Bobbi are rudely surprised to be discovered by Sophie, who proceeds to blackmail JJ to being her new best friend and to teach her about spycraft.
Reluctantly, JJ takes Sophie ice skating, buys her ice cream, shows up at her school’s Special Friends Day and manages to teach a few bullies some important lessons. The best part of the tutelage is when Sophie becomes adept at beating a polygraph test, outsmarting her tutor in a training move, and spouting off pithy statements with the panache of James Bond. “My Spy” is so predictable that only a person who has not watched a movie in the past two or three decades might be surprised by the outcome. But what the heck, it’s a slight comedic diversion that is still watchable.