The first episode of this new anthology series from Robert De Niro’s production company is a police drama with heart — not the sort of thing that one might be looking for on Fox. If high standard is maintained, it might help attract a whole new audience to the weblet.
“The Box” is centered on two brothers: Larry Fishburne, a cop, and Carl Lumbly, an investment banker. After pre-credit sequence that’s a distasteful twist on the Rodney King beating incident, script by series creator David J. Burke and producer Hans Tobeason moves into classier territory.
Lumbly teaches Fishburne a parable of the economics professor and the wooden box, which serves as the story’s main metaphor and (it’s hoped) unintended double-entendre.
Script so establishes Lumbly as an attractive character that it’s particularly devastating when he’s killed by a crack addict out for his Rolex.
Plot simmers as Fishburne and Lumbly’s widow (Victoria Dillard) become increasingly attracted to one another, and relationship affects Lumbly’s kids (Sharif Rashed and Kiely Alexis Williams).
Show features solid acting throughout, a wonderful sequence of Dillard dancing her grief away, and a selection of obscure source music that’s the best since that on “Northern Exposure.”
Joe Morton and Philip Bosco, show’s only regulars, play a cop and a restaurant owner; in this episode, their roles are significant, though relatively minor.