Arriving two years after anti-police brutality protests ushered in a surge of self-examination round Hollywood’s enduring love affair with cop reveals, CBS’ East New York tries to have it each methods.
On the one hand, it’s a procedural within the acquainted hero-officer mildew, specializing in a righteous protagonist doing the whole lot in her energy to do proper by the group she’s serving. On the opposite, it tries, gingerly, to grapple with thorny points just like the inequality of legal justice in America and the deeply broken relationship between civilians and legislation enforcement. But there’s solely to this point the collection is in a position or keen to push up in opposition to the boundaries of its personal style, and East New York proves to be way more profitable in replicating its comforts than in tackling its darkish facet.
East New York
The Bottom Line
A stable cop procedural that tries, with restricted success, to courageous thorny territory.
Airdate: 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 (CBS)
Cast: Amanda Warren, Jimmy Smits, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Kevin Rankin, Richard Kind, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Lavel Schley, Olivia Luccardi
Creators: Mike Flynn, William Finkelstein
While removed from the primary police drama to acknowledge the shortcomings of the establishment, East New York makes these failings central to its premise. In the premiere, Deputy Inspector Regina Haywood (Amanda Warren) takes up a brand new publish in control of the 74th Precinct — based mostly within the racially numerous working-class neighborhood that provides the collection its title — with a clear-eyed understanding of the place the NYPD is falling brief, and large concepts about how they will do higher.
She encourages her officers to maneuver into the very tasks they patrol, bristles in opposition to top-down stress to prioritize instances involving the already privileged, does away with traffic-ticket quotas in an effort to redirect her staff’s power towards the extra critical crimes plaguing the neighborhood. Meanwhile, she defends her place in opposition to colleagues who regard her as a range rent and a political institution threatened by her authority as a girl, in addition to in opposition to residents whose mistrust of legislation enforcement East New York presents as each bone-deep and mainly comprehensible.
If the argument put forth by activists has been that dangerous policing is greater than a matter of simply “a few bad apples,” East New York‘s optimistic rejoinder is that a few good apples might be all it takes to save an institution from rot. That it’s introduced as an amazing problem solely renders Regina and her allies extra heroic, by positioning them as selfless underdogs. In distinction to stereotypes of police as power-tripping free cannons, Regina is the kind of boss who clothes down her detectives (Elizabeth Rodriguez’s Morales and Kevin Rankin’s Killian) for making an attempt to steamroll a suspect who asks for a lawyer, and scolds an officer (Olivia Luccardi’s Quinlan) for threatening to retaliate in opposition to a neighbor who’s spray-painted “PIG” on her condominium door.
It’s a reassuring imaginative and prescient, for a sure kind of viewer, and inside that framework East New York does simply nice at what it’s making an attempt to do. The first two episodes have the workmanlike polish of a present constructed by individuals who know what they’re doing. Which they’re: East New York‘s creators are Mike Flynn (Power Book III: Raising Kanan) and William Finkelstein (whose expertise with cop reveals spans three a long time and consists of NYPD Blue and Law & Order). What minor bits of awkwardness mar the premiere — just like the cheesiness of an early taking pictures scene — are successfully counteracted by an interesting solid of veteran actors and characterizations in a position to strike a promising steadiness between flawed and sympathetic, relatable and quirky.
Warren’s Regina, who spends a piece of the primary episode in a crimson coat that flutters behind her like a superhero’s cape, serves up a mixture of righteousness and stubbornness that’s laborious to root in opposition to — even when she’s pitted in opposition to her extra pragmatic mentor Suarez, performed with interesting gravitas by NYPD Blue alum Jimmy Smits. Richard Kind’s Yenko, Regina’s govt officer, instantly establishes himself because the lovable one by introducing himself because the annoying one, and appears to spend extra of his time onscreen bidding on traditional vehicles and training Italian than doing precise police work. Some of Regina’s staff rank larger than others on the likability spectrum, however all are blessed with sharp minds and basically good hearts.
Amid such firm, it’s straightforward sufficient to fall again into the well-worn rhythms of the police procedural: of high-stakes instances wrapped up in tidy 40something minute increments, of coworkers affectionately ribbing one another on the job, of montages of soothing competence punctuated by the occasional jolt of violent motion. Though it hasn’t but reached the heights of Law & Order at its most addictive, it’s a stable addition to the canon of police dramas — and its sturdy basis ought to permit for loads of progress over the course of the season because the characters and the world round them deepen additional nonetheless.
Where East New York falls brief is in making an attempt to forge riskier, newer paths. The collection appears acutely conscious that there’s solely to this point a cop present can go in reexamining policing with out breaking it utterly. Calling out the disparate remedy of a rich sufferer versus a working-class one is one factor; mentioning that the previous’s whiteness and the latter’s Blackness could have additionally had one thing to do with it’s apparently a bridge too far, given the reluctance of even a personality as opinionated Regina to level it out. The inclusion of a skinny blue line flag among the many props cluttering Regina’s desk appears like a press release in itself, however whether or not it denotes assist for Blue Lives Matter or an try to reclaim the image from its ugliest associations, this present is unwilling to say.
To make certain, it’s unimaginable to evaluate a full season based mostly on two episodes, and East New York might but acquire the boldness to start out pushing the envelope just a little additional. That stated, a second-episode scene by which a person emotionally thanks the police for doing their jobs so he wouldn’t should take issues into his personal arms by way of unforgivable violence would appear a reasonably sturdy indication of what this present desires its viewers to think about the establishment it’s presenting, and the tales it’s telling about them.
In East New York‘s view, policing could also be damaged, however these are the well-meaning, law-abiding cops who’re going to repair it. This thought offers the collection with the faint sheen of progressiveness whereas permitting it to keep up the stance that nothing actually wants to alter on a elementary stage, past maybe some personnel adjustments and a more in-depth adherence to the principles. Two years in the past, the query Hollywood confronted was of how they could evolve their portrayals of policing within the wake of loud, sustained and justified outrage. East New York stands as a illustration of that change, and of its limits.