Don’t expect to see a very special episode of “Fastlane” anytime soon.
Unlike critically hailed fare such as “NYPD Blue” or “The Shield,” Fox’s new Wednesday night crime drama — starring Bill Bellamy and Peter Facinelli as ex-cons turned undercover cops — isn’t aiming to tackle serious social issues or expose viewers to the darker side of police work. Instead, exec producers McG (“Charlie’s Angels”) and John McNamara (CBS’ “The Fugitive”) say their goal is simply to pump some adrenaline — and levity — back into the genre.
“I look at ‘Miami Vice,’ I look at ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ I look at the fun that was being had in television throughout the last 20, 30 years (and) I want to replicate some of that,” says McG. “Clearly, there is a renaissance going on in television with the intelligence (of shows like ‘Shield’), but I feel like some of the fun and velocity and the color and the energy has been absent, and that’s what we try to deliver.”
Indeed, while it’s almost standard for cop drama producers these days to spend weeks talking to real-life police officers in order to add as much grit as possible to their project, McNamara and McG purposely opted to do the opposite.
“We had every plan and every intention to go down there and hang out with undercover cops and get their stories, but as we began to develop it, we realized that this is not a reality cop show,” McNamara says. “It’s a fantasy about reality.”
Yet “Fastlane” is hardly a cartoon. While the show won’t win any kudos for capturing the daily existence of an undercover cop, the pilot episode is about two minutes ahead of the cultural cutting edge in the way it portrays music, language, fashion and the overall mood of the young adult generation.
No surprise then that some observers are already drawing parallels between “Fastlane” and Michael Mann’s landmark 1980s cop drama “Miami Vice.” Both McNamara and McG cop to the influence of Mann’s skein, but are nonetheless confident “Fastlane” will ultimately stand as a unique entity.
“I challenge you to name another television show that, frankly, feels the same way our television (show) feels,” McG says. “You can’t say, ‘Hey, it’s just like ‘Miami Vice’ (or) ‘Hey, it’s just like ‘Starsky & Hutch.’ It’s a little like all these television shows, but in the final analysis, it’s its own.”