We've seen this all before

"King & Maxwell" on TNT stars Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney as disgraced Secret Service agents who open a private detective agency. It's marked by lazy writing and clumsy plotting.
"King & Maxwell" on TNT stars Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney as disgraced Secret Service agents who open a private detective agency. It's marked by lazy writing and clumsy plotting. (JAN THIJS)

TNT's "King & Maxwell" follows a tired television formula.

Posted: June 09, 2013

With the demise of the gritty, old-fashioned cop show Southland, TNT's dramatic lineup has been left with a gaping hole that may be impossible to fill - especially if the cabler's new procedural, King & Maxwell, is any indication.

Starring Jon Tenney ( The Closer) and X-Men's Rebecca Romijn, it premieres at 10 p.m. Monday. It's one of three new basic cable shows, including Sinbad and Primeval: New World, a pair of family fantasy adventure series on Syfy that premiere Saturday at 9 and 10 p.m. respectively.

King & Maxwell opens with a surreal car chase through downtown Washington that pits Romijn against a tour bus driven by a lunatic wearing a giant, fuzzy beaver suit.

That's the only good part of the pilot, and, one suspects, of the rest of the series. (TNT would not provide critics with any episodes other than the pilot.)

King & Maxwell is about two disgraced Secret Service agents who form a private-eye company. A drama-lite buddy-story concoction to match TNT's awful Franklin & Bash and barely tolerable Rizzoli & Isles, King & Maxwell is all lazy writing, clumsy plotting, and somnambulistic acting.

Instead of showing us who these characters are, the pilot spoon-feeds us their backstories with lame expository dialogue of the sort that'd get you a failing grade in an intro-to-screenwriting class.

The pilot finds the bickering buddies enmeshed in an evil plot hatched by a couple of defense contractors and a menacing Homeland Security dragon lady. It's silly Rocky & Bullwinkle stuff. (Apologies for demeaning that wonderful cartoon.)

Though other basic cable channels are opening up the TV drama with bold, cinematic shows such as Longmire, The Killing, and Orphan Black, TNT is twiddling its thumbs with the kind of formulaic pap that was already passé in the 1990s.

Sweet heroes 'n' CGI monsters

Syfy's Saturday-night lineup includes two new imports: Primeval: New World, an inferior Canadian spin-off of the British thriller Primeval, and Sinbad, a warmhearted, exciting, and charming take from Britain's Sky 1 on the hero.

Sinbad, shot in sun-drenched, radiant, and colorful Malta, stars newcomer Elliot Knight as a young Sinbad, a poor teen who kicks around his hometown of Basra as a pickpocket and occasional bare-knuckle boxer. He's forced to go into exile when he runs afoul of the king's brother, Lord Akbari (Naveen Andrews), and the royal family's powerful witch, Taryn (Orla Brady).

Sinbad hooks up with a roguish ship's crew, leading them into adventures filled with dangerous CGI monsters.

It's not as well-written or accomplished as Syfy's Merlin, but it's a lot of fun for the whole family.

The same can't be said of Primeval: New World. Like its English predecessor, the show is about a mysterious series of time-travel gateways that open at the most inconvenient times to deposit dinosaurs all around the city. They're hunted down by a group of scientists and action heroes led by Steve Jobs-ish boy wonder Evan Cross ( Eureka bad boy Niall Matter) and the fetching Dylan Weir ( The Vampire Diaries' Sara Canning).

There's no real chemistry among the cast - or much of a plot.


Television

Sinbad

9 p.m. Saturday on Syfy.

Primeval: New World

10 p.m. Saturday on Syfy.

King & Maxwell

10 p.m. Monday on TNT.


Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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