Representing CBS’ latest attempt to produce a sort-of summer soap, “Reckless” mixes an ongoing storyline with a procedural element, in a slightly tawdry tale of Southern sex that — reflecting the network’s sweet spot — still doesn’t stray from the police station and courthouse. The show’s modestly diverting on its own terms and well cast at the fringes, but the show’s leads probably aren’t as compelling as they need to be given the desire to produce fireworks between what CBS describes as its “gorgeous Yankee litigator and charming Southern attorney.” So while the show masters the network’s formula, it could use a little help with chemistry.
Set in Charleston, S.C., the series centers on a relocated Chicago lawyer, Jamie Sawyer (Anna Wood), forced to butt heads with the new City Attorney, Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet). Lest anyone miss clues that they’re both supposed to be smokin’ hot, she conspicuously turns heads when first walking into the courthouse, and he’s shown working shirtless on a boat because, um …
The rivalry quickly heats up in the context of a case that becomes the show’s ongoing spine: the dismissal of a female cop, Lee Anne (Georgina Haig), who was having sex with one of her co-workers, dirty detective Terry McCandless (Shawn Hatosy, like fellow “Southland” alum Ben McKenzie, still walking the beat in his follow-up show).
Lee Anne’s wrongful-termination case, which Jamie agrees to pursue, hints at deeper corruption within the department, as well as a good-ol’-boy mentality that suggests the powers that be take care of their own. At the same time, the episodes previewed each involve a self-contained little mini-trial, presumably for that portion of the CBS audience that can’t fathom watching anything that fails to offer some kind of closure before clapping off the set.
Created by Dana Stevens, “Reckless” (a say-nothing title, incidentally) wants to position itself as a sort-of CW/CBS hybrid — a lurid soap with a procedural backbone. And if that feels kind of summery, it’s still not compelling enough to create a sense of urgency, despite the twists and cliffhangers that close episodes.
Other than the accents, the series also seemingly misses a chance to fully capitalize on its locale, talking a lot about where old and new meet in the South without much context, despite CBS’ best efforts to make the show feel “sultry,” as it’s described. (As a footnote, Catherine Hardwicke, who kicked off the “Twilight” franchise, directed the pilot.)
CBS is clearly making good on the general network pledge to not just hang out a “Gone fishin’ ” sign in the summer, augmenting “Big Brother” and last season’s hit “Under the Dome” with new players, including the sci-fi premise “Extant.”
In that context, the thinking behind this lower-key addition to the roster feels much like the show itself: Calculated, yes, but far from reckless.