Although a fact-based drama, “Armed & Innocent” contains barely a shred of credibility. Danielle Hill’s script is fraught with concocted scenarios and cookie-cutter characters. Audiences are likely to either tune out after the first reel or shout instructions to the characters, who seem incapable of making sensible choices.
When burglars break into a house located in idyllic suburbia, the home’s sole occupant, 11-year old Chris (Andrew Starnes), is forced to defend his homestead from the intruders. He kills two, but a third bad guy flees, only to return in show’s final moments, necessitating the ubiquitous 11th-hour arrival of the local calvary.
Stereotypical characters abound, from greasy-haired, unshaven criminals to the overworked sheriff with a Southern accent (Jim Haynie), who can’t find the fugitive despite the criminal’s popping up at Chris’ school and driving around town in a beat-up Cutlass.
Reporters are portrayed as idiotic vultures incapable of independent thought who constantly try to blame the boy for society’s ills. And the aw-shucks townsfolk almost hold a parade to honor Chris for accelerating the inevitable demise of the miscreants.
Fortunately for the town and the family, Chris’ mom, Patsy (Kate Jackson), is able to keep her head when everyone else is losing theirs. She’s apparently the only adult sensitive enough to realize her son has been traumatized by the shooting regardless of outward appearances to the contary.
While suburban Everyman Bobby Lee (Gerald McRaney), Chris’ blue collar dad, is touting his son’s good deed, Patsy turns to neighbor and coincidentally Vietnam vet Lonnie (Cotter Smith) to get the scoop on post-traumatic stress disorder, from which Lonnie and Patsy eventually agree that Chris is suffering.Patsy sparks a row between the couple and the family infighting quickly grows tiresome, as they exorcise their own demons through meaningless and repeated confrontations.
The unsatisfying ending only serves to highlight program’s numerous shortcomings.
Director Jack Bender can do little to help Hill’s characters, apparently preferring to let the leads fall back on previous incarnations as series regulars: McRaney is little more than a Southern Rick Simon, and Jackson reprises her Angel-era always-knowing stance.