About as retro as crime drama gets, the best news for “The Evidence” is that the show takes over a timeslot previously occupied by the muddled sci-fi serial “Invasion,” which shouldn’t set ratings expectations terribly high. Clearly inspired by the “CSI” franchise it’ll be challenging, the new series is long on visual flash but short on substance — or a vital spark between its leads. Perhaps viewers are clamoring for “The Streets of San Francisco” meets “I Spy,” circa 2006, but at least initially, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Even the ostensible gimmick doesn’t offer viewers much to invest them in the show, flashing forward to reveal the various pieces of evidence that will be available at the end of the case. Then, at roughly each act break, the camera freezes on one of the clues as it comes into the picture, somewhat reminiscent of the original “Wild, Wild West.”
At the show’s core are best-buddy inspectors Bishop (Orlando Jones) and Cole (Rob Estes), who engage in snappy banter about Bishop’s terrible eating habits, with more sober moments touching on Cole’s lingering “Fugitive”-like quest regarding his wife’s unsolved murder.
The business at hand in the first hour, however, could hardly be more mundane, as the pair investigates the death of a young pharmacist, with periodic help from medical examiner Sol Goodman (Martin Landau), following a trail that zig-zags from one ill-defined suspect to another.
Jones and Estes have been around this block a few times, but the truth is that Cosby and Culp did it all much better about 40 years ago. And unless Cole’s hunt for the equivalent of his one-armed man becomes an ongoing throughline to bring extra heft to the proceedings, this basically feels like the fifth best cop drama of the 1978 TV season.
The show is visually handsome, which one would expect of a John Wells production, but breezy shots of the Golden Gate (mostly approximated in Vancouver) do not a series make. And while that “Lost” lead-in offers the possibility of initial sampling, as “Invasion” discovered, that crowd will have no trouble finding the remote if “The Evidence” doesn’t prove more compelling.