The Unusuals Was Unusually Okay

Land of Punt wasn’t too excited about ABC’s new cop drama, The Unusuals. Of course lowered expectations usually mean your chances to like something increases. The Unusuals were no exception. It was a likable show.

If you do some research to find reviews of The Unusuals the first thing you’ll notice is critics complaining about how the show “went out of its way to be quirky.”

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These critics are wrong. The show didn’t go out of its way to be quirky it went to the Moon to be quirky.

Every character has an attribute that’s so overwhelming and intense it renders them one-dimensional. Perhaps that will smooth out over a few episodes but for some viewers this is probably too big of a distraction. And the series may not get very many episodes to hone in its wacky cast.

While it came in second in its time slot (but dropped in the second half hour), The Unusuals debut with just a 4.5/8 rating. It got crushed by CSI: New York and barely beat out NBC’s second Law and Order rerun of the evening.

Real quick, The Unusuals is about detectives working out of the 2nd Precinct in New York City. The effervescent Amber Tamblyn stars as the “cop with the heart” and the only oasis of sanity. She’s the audience’s vicarious link. All the other characters are impossible to relate too.

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The show is part Barney Miller, part Hill Street Blues, part NYPD Blue and part Night Court with some peyote thrown in for good measure. What it’s not is a procedural cop show. Don’t expect a good mystery to solve as none of the characters are super-cops, nor are they super attractive.

The show “has gone out of its way” to make everyone look real. No Chris Noth’s or Melina Kanakaredes’s. For some that might be refreshing (or like watching the BBC) but why else do you watch television if not for the beautiful people?

One character that does take a big hit to their image is New York City.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, New York was often portrayed (minus Woody Allen’s Manhattan) as a crime-ridden urban cesspool—a tough and gritty place straight out of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Then in the 1990’s, especially with Rudy Giuliani as mayor, the city became the world’s capital, the center of art, culture and media. It was romanticized and immortalized in such television shows as Seinfeld, Friends, Sex and the City, How I Met Your Mother and CSI: New York. Even the Law and Order franchise treats the city with reverence.

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With The Unusuals, the Big Apple is once again rotten. The city has returned to a crime-laden, Apocalypse-Now-type of bizarre urban wasteland.

However, that’s not the major crime of the show.

The absolute, most unbelievable aspect of The Unusuals, and in fact of any television show ever created on the face of the planet, is Jeremy Renner’s character was the first base man for the New York Yankees.

L.O.P. would believe a convoluted show about survivors of a plane crash living on a desert island before we’d believe a five-foot-nothing, string noodle was a Bronx Bomber.

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