NBC's summer filler is basically a Euro-zone version of 'Criminal Minds'
Produced in Europe, “Crossing Lines” is a credible and gritty crime procedural that NBC is scheduling as summer filler, featuring a crack team “from all over the Euro Zone” assembled to hunt down the worst of the worst. “We’re like the Justice League,” the lone American, played by William Fichtner, muses near the outset, yielding confused shrugs from some of his colleagues. Actually, they’re more like “Criminal Minds” — a former stop made by series creator Edward Allen Bernero — only this time with a bit more flair and a nondescript title that’s nevertheless catchier than “Earning Tax Credits,” which would be equally descriptive.
If nothing else, having this series turn up on a major network (as opposed to, say, BBC America) should remind inward-looking U.S. viewers that we have not cornered the market on psychopathic killers or tormented cops, even if the team’s steely eyed French leader, Louis Daniel (Marc Lavoine), feels compelled to recruit a retired Yank, Fichtner’s twitchy Carl Hickman, to lend his expertise to the operation. Hickman is hiding out in Amsterdam, nursing an old wound and a medicinal habit, as well as a bad attitude.
He shares that last quality, inevitably, with most of his new teammates, who include crime-solving prodigies with special skills from Italy (Gabriella Pession), France (Moon Dailly), Ireland (Richard Flood) and Germany (“Game of Thrones’ ” Tom Wlaschiha, with a much shorter haircut).
Pursuing a killer who leaves behind a grisly trail of dead women, the group (organized under the International Criminal Court) runs into the expected jurisdictional skirmishes with local gendarmes, while Louis also grapples with bureaucratic issues in the form of a fatherly ICC inspector played by Donald Sutherland, adding another recognizable (if scarcely present) face to the proceedings.
Directed by Daniel Percival, “Crossing Lines” does represent a hybrid of sorts, containing some of the brooding strains characteristic of British crime shows — which specialize in detectives burdened by dark streaks — with the fundamental skeleton of U.S. procedurals. That said, the whole melting pot of European coppers swapping insults is a rather stale twist on an old formula.
That’s not to say “Lines” is without its merits, starting with Fichtner, always an interesting actor, with a character that suits him (and bears a more-than-passing resemblance to his “Prison Break” stint); and Lavoine, who in the two-part premiere is saddled with his own vague but tragic backstory.
Still, this bit of international cooperation is clearly motivated more by circumstances (and the prospect of sharing production costs) than inspiration. In that respect, the exigencies of fighting crime and financing TV each have a way of creating strange, border-crossing bedfellows.