I wish it were against the law to have too many Sherlock Holmes adaptations/rip-offs on the air at once. Right now, we have the ingenious British drama Sherlock and the incredibly dull American drama Elementary. Both are adaptations of the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but then we have shows like Crossing Lines, and House which are about intuitive characters, or characters otherwise gifted in deductive reasoning, and it can get a little tiring. Not to say I didn’t like House, and I would much rather watch Crossing Lines than Elementary, but it’s advertising to the rest of the world how unoriginal our network television dramas are when we have 20 different cop shows already painfully similar without throwing in Sherlock characters wherever they suit us.
Here, our Sherlock is Carl Hickman (William Fichtner; The Dark Knight), a former New York City police detective who has been working at a carnival since an accident badly damaged his hand. Burdened with constant excruciating pain in that hand, Hickman has developed a severe addiction to morphine when he’s brought in to help investigate the brutal murder of a French girl. He works with a specialized team of investigators called the international crimes court.
For most of the first episode, I thought the writers here had broken the first rule of writing a Sherlock Holmes story. You can’t have your Sherlock character make a deduction about someone and then not explain how he got there. When we meet Hickman, he deduces that a man at the carnival is having an affair with a blonde woman, who is pregnant with a boy, and then he doesn’t explain how he knew that until later in the episode. Even worse than not explaining the deduction, Hickman simply saw the man the previous day with his mistress, and then called him out on it. That’s a small spoiler, but I was pretty disappointed by the complete lack of deductive reasoning when they had worked so hard to establish that aspect of his character as being his only asset to this team.
Now, I would much rather watch Crossing Lines than Elementary, as I said, but I’d also choose it over just about any cop drama on the air right now for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not the familiar boring structure of a man cop and a woman cop solving the same crime in the same way week after week, complete with a healthy dose of sexual tension. The ensemble of characters assembled in Crossing Lines is much more interesting to me than that. Second, I prefer this show to any other crime drama on the air right now because they reveal who the bad guy is early in each episode. In every carbon copied cop drama on the air, there’s a crime, and then there’s 3 acts of the police tracking and interviewing subjects, and then there’s a conclusion where he or she is caught. Every single time. By putting a face to the criminal early on, Crossing Lines is able to play with dramatic irony and character development in a way that those other shows simply can’t; they have to sacrifice that interesting structure for the sake of their twist ending.
The title is a bit vague. I assume the “lines” being crossed are the borders between countries as our team moves from crime scene to crime scene to try to track down these global killers. It’s interesting the varied locations we can go to in a single episode. We’ll start at a park in Paris, then catch a lead in London, and end up in a shoot out in Germany. Don’t know if this does anything to further the themes, or heighten the stakes, but it does feel less restricted than a cop drama that is only ever set in one city.
No official word on Season 2 ever coming out, but fans of the show are begging for its return after the cliffhanger of season 1.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.