“Murder In the First”
don’t usually do reviews, but this new show on TNT has been on my mind since I
saw the first episode. I haven’t watched
was initially intrigued by the two stars of the show: Kathleen Robertson who
did a strong and marvelous job in the STARZ political drama “Boss” with Kelsey
Grammar, and Taye Diggs, a wonderful and beautiful to look at actor who has
honed his skills to perfection. (I
have to admit that Taye Diggs was the main attraction…. I mean what self
respecting woman would not want to watch Taye Diggs in anything? ) But let’s not get lost in those brown eyes and that
premise of the show is that someone has murdered a dude named Cody (Lame plot
reminds me of “you killed Kenny” from South Park, but did I mention Taye
Diggs?) and over the course of 10 episodes that crime will be the only one
investigated to its conclusion by San Francisco based lead detectives Taye and
Kathleen. I will not go into
detail about how the Taye Diggs’ character becomes a widower in the first
episode except to say that it was dripping with unrelenting suffering on the
part of his dying wife, played by Anne-Marie Johnson, and capped off with his
ridiculously quick closure about it all.
the show, the city of San Francisco is glaringly bright and clean with soft welcoming
ambiance and pristine model-like people in every nook and cranny. It is when the investigation takes Taye
and Kathleen on a “field trip to Oakland” as the chief of detectives describes it,
that things go seriously wrong.
sojourn to the other side of the bay begins with them talking amicably in the
car as they cross the beautiful bay bridge. Halfway across, the bridge suddenly changes into a rusty, rickety,
decrepit structure as they arrive in Oakland. (I did not recognize this bridge and have never seen it
around here so I figure it must have been spliced in from “Once Upon A
Time”) Their backs stiffen as they
drive to their destination and all conversation stops to allow for wide-eyed
looks at the sinister and foreboding terrain. It is here that the camera lens
seems to be covered by a gray stocking as everything, even the sky, has the
appearance of being dipped in dirty water.
arrive at the neighborhood where they are going to interview the victim’s
parents. The houses are all old, surrounded by broken fences, and in need of
paint. None of them have grass or
flowers. There are no pets or
children. A snarling, menacing
Latino-looking male in a tee shirt with ill intent or suspicion in his eyes
inhabits every corner they pass.
Finally they reach the house they are looking for and each touches their
weapon for comfort as they alight from the car and approach the front steps.
house is so raggedy that I fully expect the “before he got rich” Steve Martin
from “The Jerk” to answer the door when they ring the bell. It turns out I am not that far
off. The white woman who opens the
door to let them in is a sweaty, greasy mess, dressed in a dirty
housedress. The only thing
authentic about this scene is the wonderful built-ins and woodwork that form
the backdrop. Soon her husband
appears and he is also among the unwashed and is wearing a grayish wife beater
that was white only before it was purchased. Both of them have hair that is matted and stuck to their
skulls like glue. They are not
really able to help much with the investigation because guess what…they haven’t
seen the victim in years and of course they are just, well…. (spoiler alert) not even his parents but really his
grandparents and not quite bright on top of all of that.
I am watching this, I am getting more and more angry. How are we STILL depicting people with these stereotypes and
why is Oakland the center of this freakishly inaccurate portrayal?
journey from light to grey when the characters go from San Francisco to Oakland
is an ignorant and biased director’s use of the “heaven to hell” metaphor. It just does not apply. The visual enhancement of a lie to define an entire city is the real murder
here. I mean, have the people who
put this crappy show together ever been to Oakland? I suspect not. These
irresponsible, racist and damaging depictions only serve to plant false beliefs
about people and places that deserve better.
Diggs notwithstanding, the good people of Oakland certainly deserve better than
this. We all do.