There was a while there when cop shows were shows about cops.
The quality tent poles of this movement were Hill Street Blues
and Homicide. Now, however, we’ve returned to the Dragnet days when
cop shows were about crimes. ROBBERY HOMICIDE DIVISION is an
example of this shift. Oh, it’s far more violent than Dragnet
ever was (we see 9 shooting deaths in this episode), but it’s still
about the crime that the plot brings to light.
And if that level of violence makes this show a bit hard to look at,
believe it or not the show is harder to listen to. Between heavy
music, Spanish conversations, static-laden radio transmissions,
and simple mumbling, it’s often hard to hear what is being said.
The look is stylish, bringing a cold eye to stylish
Los Angeles sites. The performing is good. The writing gives us
no one to care about, though; the cops don’t engage us, we’re
not awed by or rooting for the criminals, and the victims are
Nor is it illuminating. This is not reality. If they have
7 people murdered each episode (that’s the murder count for
episode 1, including a dead cop who was — wait for it — just about to
retire; the other dead folks were bad guys killed by return fire
from cops), then in a season this crew will cover more than half the
peopl killed in L.A. in a given year, as if most murders were interesting.
And if a cop-gone-bad (hey, he’s a Rampart division undercover narc
officer, was it supposed to be a surprise when they later revealed
he’d gone bad?) was the kingpin behind 7 killings, would they
really offer him a maximum sentence of one year in county so that
they could get his underlings? Rrrrright….
It’s not clear to me whether this was a stand-alone episode
or the start of larger stories, with the bad guys who were
quickly introduced and then left free part of some larger plot.
If the latter, they could possibly build something worthwhile.
I’m not driven to see more about the cops or the crooks, though,
so I won’t revisit it.