Though it takes awhile to get going, “Marker,” which marks Richard Grieco’s return to series TV, has an exotic locale, hard bodies and even harder heads — in other words, something for everyone. Despite some holes in the story, it is likely to earn a shakabra — the Hawaiian handsign for approval — from viewers.
With his familiar sideburns and double earrings, Grieco plays Richard DeMorra, the son of a wealthy, recently deceased industrialite.
Richard has come to the islands for the funeral of his father, a man he hardly knew who’d left home 20 years ago. He learns that Dad has left a widow, Richard’s stepmom, and a massive portfolio that encompasses real estate, cash and a corporation that sports a fleet of helicopters.
Show’s title refers to chits given out by his Dad to those he deemed worthy, individuals who perhaps helped him in the past, and earned his gratitude.
When in trouble, these folks contact Richard for assistance. Richard, a New Jersey construction worker, now becomes a sort of pro bono private eye.
If it sounds familiarly far-fetched, one needs only to look at show’s creator , Stephen J. Cannell, for an explanation.
In the show’s opener, island local Lisa (Nia Peeples) enlists Richard to find her stepsister, presumably kidnapped by the underworld.
Surfer Danny Khala (Andy Bumatai) malaprops the pidgin English of the region, coming off as a Hawaiian Norm Crosby. He also serves as an adversary to Richard, spouting off island myths rapid-fire as a way to lay claim to Richard’s land.
Grieco convinces as a construction roughneck turned sympathetic son, as he learns that the man he has hated for two decades was actually not a bad guy.
Bumatai is often too clownish, but the Cannell m.o. requires a buddy for the lead, and he ably fulfills that responsibility.
But scribe Cannell offers a plotline so prehistoric, including a tactic to endear the actor to viewers by showing his sympathetic side, that much of it backfires, making Grieco appear daft. Grieco also provides narration to fill in the gaps that time or script limitations could not.
The de rigueur friction between stepmom and estranged son grows tiresome with each encounter, as does a final-act mutual appreciation reference signaling a pending reconciliation with each other’s demons.
Violence is kept to a minimum in this family-viewable ditty; director Dennis Dugan (TV’s former surfing private eye Richie Brockleman) taps his experience in the genre and steers his cast into believable behaviors.