Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Smith – Pilot Review

Here’s another pilot with what essentially is a top notch movie actor cast “slumming” it on TV in a new John Wells (ER) show. The pilot is filmed with film quality visuals and while it isn’t the home run the pilots for Lost or Alias were, by the end of the episode when they finally slowly revealed Michelle Hurd (Law and Order: SVU) and the dude from Third Watch (I think), it seemed to at least relieve the minute moralistic side of me that questioned what the point of this show was about.

Why did I say that? Because Smith follows a group of thieves that are not quite as nice and suave and bouncy and comedic as the Ocean Eleven’s bunch. This is a group that includes Simon Baker’s Jeff (obliterating the nice guy we love from The Guardian) who happily whistles as he shoots off some surfer dudes who gets in his way. This is a group that includes Amy Smart’s Annie (obliterating the nice girl we love from Felicity and Rat Race) who brutally knocks out and tazers a fellow pedestrian who thinks she recognizes her as an old friend. These are not nice people and here we are watching a show with this group as the leads. Why? I mean, it’s fascinating stuff and quite elegantly done, but what keeps me intrigued in Ray Liotta’s (Goodfellas) Bobby Stevens gang of thievery experts, who also includes Jonny Lee Miller’s (Trainspotting) Tom and Franky G’s (The Italian Job) Joe, is the fact that they are all still under the command of Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog, 24), and that soon there will be some cat and mouse game with Michelle Hurd and Third Watch dude (which could get boring fast though too as Prison Break has proven).

However, the best part is Virginia Madsen, as Bobby’s wife Hope Stevens. Living in the cushy suburbs of what looks like southern California or Arizona with their son and daughter, Hope seems to be the loving, if slightly suspicious wife who knows nothing of Bobby’s escapades and thinks he works at some boring office job selling paper cups. Or does she? Does he know about her former drug past that’s slightly alluded to? Or that she is on parole? What does she know of his life and what does he of hers?

Virginia Madsen, whom for me, came out of nowhere to give an astounding performance in Sideways, and breathed some much needed sensual mystery in A Prairie Home Companion this summer, is perfectly used with her breathy low voice as the unknowing (?) wife to Bobby’s handsome, though not perfectly honest husband (which uses Ray Liotta’s slightly handsome yet slightly plastic and creepy face to perfection).

While Smith the show may have the most boring title possible for a show (Smith is a word used to describe an unknown culprit in an investigation apparently, and the producers also noted allows for constantly changing thieves in case any of the movie stars decides to leave again for filmwork), Smith is quite fascinating, if not entirely likeable much like the characters it intends to follow.

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