Currently, there are no fewer than 23 crime-related shows on network television, from NBC’s “Law & Order” franchise to CBS’ “Hack” to spy thrillers “Alias” and “24.” And with a whole slew of them planned for midseason, audiences are clearly buying into the most thriving television trend of the past few years. Whether or not these shows accurately depict the daily lives and duties of policeman, lawyers and anyone else who happen to inadvertently come in contact with any fragment of the criminal justice sector is a moot point. As long as they satiate a public curiosity for danger for the 9-5 office-dwellers whose days are highlighted by lunchtime excursions to Applebee’s, network execs will continue to fill their primetime schedules with crime-related fluff. At best, these TV shows intelligently weave intricate crime stories into a fascinating web of mystery, suspense and intrigue. At worst, they are “Crossing Jordan.” Unfortunately, the majority of today’s crime shows fall into the latter category.
One exception is NBC’s innovative new crime drama “Boomtown.” The show is an ensemble drama that tells the street-level story of Los Angeles with a unique twist. If Quentin Tarantino remade “Rashomon,” the result would quite probably resemble an episode of “Boomtown.” Each one lays the foundation by presenting a crime, and unravels it utilizing a multiple perspective narrative technique, telling the story through the eyes of the city’s detectives (Mykleti Williamson and Donnie Wahlberg), cops (Jason Gedrick and Gary Basaraba), a ruthless Assistant District Attorney (Neal McDonough) and a beat reporter (Nina Gabiras). Sporadically, the perspectives of victims, witnesses and perpetrators are incorporated as well.
Like “24” before it, which follows the events of a single day over the course of an entire season, “Boomtown” attempts to differentiate itself from the excessively cluttered crime-spree that is primetime television. Occasionally it becomes apparent that the structure exists for no other reason than to tell a story through a different narrative method, but for the most part, the construction is an active participant in the mystery.
Last week’s episode was a masterful piece of television, effectively deceiving the audience with the illusory storytelling device. After seemingly solving the murder case for the viewer by assuming the perp’s point-of-view, the story took a 180-degree twist, which seemed all the more cunning once it ultimately came together.
Created and written by Graham Yost (“Band of Brothers,” “From the Earth to the Moon”) and directed by Jon Avnet (“Uprising”), each episode plays out like a mystery, with every perspective introducing a different piece of the puzzle. Despite an obligatory clich