Although the writing may not be precisely focussed yet and all the typical police procedural hallmarks are present, neither are enough to bring down the driving force and titular character at the heart of Showcase’s one-hour cop drama series, King.
Sent into exile after exposing her corrupt former Police Chief to the media, Detective Sergeant Jessica King (Amy Price-Francis, 24, Californication) spends her days answering phones at the precinct’s call centre, a department where the most heinous crimes one deals with seem to be grocery thefts.
When she isn’t there she’s spending time with Guns and Gangs squad member (and current husband) Danny Sless (Gabriel Hogan of Traders). As fine and dandy as things between them are, Danny’s itching to start a family and – to say the least – King is apprehensive. An officer’s duty to serve and protect seems to be of much higher priority to her. Especially when, in the show’s pilot episode, the new Chief of Police (two-time Genie Award-winner Tony Nardi) puts her in charge of Major Crimes and the investigation of a child abduction, something which the hot-headed Det. Sgt. Derek Spears (The Tudors‘s and Survival of the Dead‘s Alan Van Sprang) isn’t too keen about since it was his case. However, considering the reason for his reassignment and his embarrassing recent blow-up with the media over the case, he’s in no position to object.
Stuck with each other and constantly butting heads over which suspects and clues to follow, Spears and King attempt to solve the case and lead the unit, an able crew which consists of the tech-savvy Det. Collier (Genie Award-nominee Aaron Poole), the Behavioural Science-specializing Det. M. K. Gordon (Zoe Doyle), and Officer Eleni Demaris (Suzanne Coy).
Okay, so all the detective-thriller calling cards are in order, a few of which include tense interrogation room verbal face-offs between grizzled cops and shady characters, foot chases rife with obstacles, and heated debates over leads, but rarely do these elements feel tired. Rather, there’s a comfortable familiarity about them, something which will surely please avid mystery and cop drama fans.
However, the writing does leave a desire for further development of the show’s supporting players. As slick-and-professional yet dweeby as Collier is, and as deadpan and perceptive as Demaris is, the two aren’t given adequate screen-time to grow and leave a lasting enough impression; yet, as much as these two characters could use the attention, Gordon is the one who needs it even more.
Meanwhile, when it comes to King herself, her pregnancy subplot doesn’t blossom as fully as it could. True, there is a growing sense of tension between her and Danny, but it doesn’t really climax. Although, this being the show’s pilot, it could very well be that the pregnancy is intended to be an ongoing plot line and developing factor in the characters’ lives.
Debatable subplot or not, though, Price-Francis simply shines as King. Determined enough to use her police badge to get into a shoe store after closing time and uncompromising enough to continuously clash with Spears and her superiors – all while dealing with her fair share of private anxieties – King certainly stands as a well-rounded and captivating presence, so much so that she effortlessly keeps viewers hooked when supporting characters and familiar plot details may not. King might be a show for police procedural and cop drama devotees, but King’s character alone could entice anyone.
Catch King premiering April 17 on Showcase.