Line of Fire (2003–2005)
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And Paymer as Malloy is frickin' marvelous. Lets face it if you had never seen him in anything before you would be impressed. But like i predicted 'Car Pool' will always be held against him. I'm sorry but if a 5ft tall Joe Pesci can be a tough guy then so can Paymer. I think its called acting. Anyway so what if Malloy isn't hard. He's evil and real smart and to be a crime boss thats all you need.
I'm happy to see a new take on organized crime that offers a more modest look on the life than the wisecracking 'Sopranos'. Hopefully this show will be given the time and scope to reach the potential it undoubtedly has.
Will it reach the heights of the Sopranos? No chance. Infact its probably reaping the backlash of that show's popularity and dominance. But would Donovan Stubbins kick the $hit out of Tony Sope and his crew. NO doubt.
I would have never figured Richmond, Virginia for the setting of a long, drawn-out mob sting operation, but I like the idea for a change. Rather than the cold streets of New York or Chicago, or flashy environs of, say, Miami, they put a bunch of syndicate crooks in one-time capital of the Confederate States.
So far, while in pursuit of a low-level mob affiliate, an FBI agent exchanges shots with the crook and both are killed, right in front of the agent's partner. A young widow has just graduated Quantico, all in an effort to eventually make it to anti-terrorism and avenge the death of her husband in the Pentagon of 9-11. She's about to fill the shoes left behind by the afore-mentioned dead agent. Two agents inform a petty crack dealer his life may be in danger because of a tape taken from four days prior, when Malloy (Paymer) interrogated a man, beating him savagely with a lead pipe, learned he worked for the crack dealer, "Crazy Jazz," dealing drugs to Malloy's nephew, Jimmy. (The scene is probably the reason there's a "Viewer Discretion Advised" on this show.) Later on, newly recruited ex-con Roy, in a mad dash, shoots Crazy Jazz, threatens his buddy, and kills an innocent bystander, much to the chagrin of Malloy, and his lieutenant, Donovan Stubbin, who stood by as his friend went nuts. But apparently Roy is actually undercover, and it was all just a way of getting the dealer into Witness Protection.
The show definitely has potential, but only time (and ratings) can tell.
Season Reviewed: Complete Series (1 season)
Rob Lurie's 'Line of Fire' follows a war that erupts between the Mob and the FBI. The show has an interesting set-up to this: a foot chase between an agent and a mobster ends when a member of each side gets off a shot at the same time, effectively killing each other. Lurie is the hack movie director of corny fluff such as 'The Last Castle' so at first I was pleasantly surprised with this offering.
The groundwork is set for this to be a great show. The formula is familiar but the characters are solid and well developed. That acting is outstanding. David Paymer, a longtime favorite of mine, is terrific as mob boss Jonah Malloy. Paymer is given a catch phrase that perfectly fits the character: "That's that with that". Thanks to the show's short life it will surely become a favorite among cult TV quotes.
Everyone else plays 2nd fiddle to Paymer, but the strongest of which is Leslie Hope. Hope got a lot of flack for her damsel-in-distress role in the first season of '24' but now she proves without question what a great and powerful actor she really is. Had the show focused more closely on her and Paymer that might have been the fuel it needed to strike a fire. Leslie Bibb (an intriguing post-9/11 character) and Julie Ann Emery (in a nice little domestic role reversal) also stand out. There's also the closeted homosexual agent in the mix, now requisite in this type of show to give it the appearance of "edge".
'Fire' looks good and has a classy, if slightly off kilter, intro. Finally, I though, a good, adult crime series. One where the emphasis is on characters and their struggles and not a jittery camera. But, as much as I want to love it, 'Fire' never seems to get off the ground. I waited until the very end for the writers to dig in and feast on all this show's juicy potential. Suck the lemon dry. What's the point in having such great characters and great performances if you aren't going to do anything with them? Each episode is like a microcosm of the series. It will start out with a gripping premise and then wander off, get lost in itself and end up going nowhere. It's rejection of the "gritty cop drama" school of cinematography is refreshing, I like the languishing '70s look, but it's often too slow and unfocused to stay interesting. It started out great, it had everyone in the palm of its hand with deliciously evil characters, noble questionable heroes and premium cable language and violence (Did you ever want to hear "s***" on network TV?) and then lost its grip. A more creative technical staff could have tightened up the mountain of technical problems that made this show so dry and monotonous.
The final episodes (aired by ABC as a 2-hour event movie in a shocking display of respect toward the show) where actually quite good. Great concept, well acted, but like all of them, it meandered in the long middle act into ground so familiar I lost interest. Fortunately, my patience was rewarded and it ended with a bang. Literally. A round of applause is deserved for pumping fresh and impressive life into the time-tested car crash set-piece.
Oh well, we'll always have the catch phrase. Thankfully, it wasn't shoved down our throat. NBC could learn a thing or two. In 5 years people will be saying it and it will be an obscure reference to a 1 season series called 'Line of Fire'. That's that with that.
* * ½
For one, the characters are unbelievable to the point of absurdity. In the most recent episode, the female special-agent-in-charge of the Richmond field office, visits a bar (which she, apparently, does every night), drinks herself silly, picks up a guy and takes him home and lets him tie her up during sex, without ever knowing what his name is.
The next morning, she cannot remember much about the encounter, including whether he used a condom or not. It turns out, the guy she picked up could have been somebody wanted for serial rape in Florida. She confesses all this to a high ranking official of the Richmond police department, himself a former lover. He tells her he needs her to recover the man's used condom in order to identify him. It turns out he wasn't the serial rapist.
Apparently, the high ranking official of the Richmond police department doesn't seem to be concerned that her behavior disqualifies her for her position, and could very well cause serious problems for the agents working for her. I watched all this, and felt she didn't deserve to carry an FBI agent's badge, let alone be placed in charge of a major metropolitan field office. She's a freaking barfly.
The absurdity goes on and on: A female agent physically accosting a guy on the street because her and her husband are late dropping their kids off - this agent cries at the drop of a hat, yet she's telling another female agent "I'd go through a door with you anytime" (what a ridiculous cliche to be dropped in here);, the "cute & plucky" little female agent disobeying orders at the academy to overcome her fears, and the all important victim-sympathy angle - her young husband was killed on 9/11 at the pentagon. I mean, nothing wrong with stuffing in as many 9/11 references to ensure success, huh?
My god, why don't you just hit us over the head with a sledgehammer and call it a day? What is the point here? The over-the-top machismo behavior exhibited by the females in this show is just laugh-out-loud ridiculous. What is someone trying to prove here? And why are they trying this hard? Television shows are supposed to entertain us. It seems as if someone here is trying to "educate" us. The whole premise with the female agents in this show is done based on someone's political agenda, and far too many television shows are taking this route.
And as for the undercover agent - "Roy"; any half-decent crime organization is understandably overly paranoid about being infiltrated by undercover agents. Yet, here we seem to have this guy pretty much just show up, with very little suspicion or distrust evident. Criminal types would have seen and smelled this guy a mile away. He seems to look and act suspiciously when he is caught in a difficult situation.
This had real possibilities; a great look and feel to it. There was some very entertaining and gritty television possible here. Yet this is all frittered away by horrendous writing ,laughable characters and an out-of-control, over-the-top political correctness.
Unless this shows undergoes a major overhaul, I'm pretty much done with this mess.
"That's that with that"
In one episode, everything changed. It was when the FBI was pursuing a criminal pregnant woman, who ultimately abandoned her newborn in a dumpster. The baby was found alive and well and the episode had a warm, happy ending. No, I am no sadist who enjoys the sight of dead babies, but the whole point of a series like this is to show us what we do not want to see, along the lines of Saving Private Ryan.
With each successive episode it lost its edge, the fate of so many good shows. In less than a season, really half a season, it went on the journey NYPD Blue took over the course of a decade, throwing in curse words and partial nudity to appear gritty, but really becoming all too soft. I loved the show, then I was glad to see it canceled.
FBI agents are fighting to stop the criminal ways of Mr Malloy and his people in Richmond, Virginia (I think that is where it's set).
I enjoyed every episode, the acting is good, the script is well written and the action is realistic.
Leslie Hope was good as the firm boss who seemed to be on top of everything but was having emotional problems and complications with her child.
Leslie Bibb was convincing as the rookie agent who really came into her own towards the end of the show.
Anson Mount played his character well. An Agent who spent 2 years undercover in jail so he could infiltrate Mr Malloy's gang and is dealing with some problems as a result of it.
Julie Ann Emery played an FBI agent who was also a mother of two and had marriage problems.
Jeffery D. Sams played another fresh outta training agent who was 100% confident in himself and seemed to pick things up straight away.
David Paymer plays his character brilliantly. He comes across nicely as a criminal with principals! LOL.
The show had some surprising concepts and ideas. I was not expecting the raping of Mrs Malloy, the dead baby in a dumpster, the ex-con trying to kill Agent Sampson's (Julie Ann Emery) children. The woman who found out her husband didn't die but ran away, and then turned up again and she shot him and how this affected Bibb's character because she lost her husband during a 9/11 attack. The most surprising thing was that this Agent (Anson Mount) had been undercover in JAIL for 2 years just to get close to Mr Malloy (David Paymer), wow...talk about commitment to your work!!
I can imagine though on the set someone calling 'Leslie' and both Bibb and Hope replying at the same time, that must of gotten confusing.
This is a great show and I am just upset that it only had one season.
Believability suffers when you see an FBI killed while standing straight up in front of a bad guy with a gun instead of going for cover. And later when, a bunch of bad guys jump out of car with guns on what should be a busy dock, but there is no one to notice.
Leslie Hope as the SAC, could become one of the best female police characters currently on TV if given the chance. The female trainee agent is made to hate. I hope she becomes a more believeable character.
Secondly, the Jennifer Sampson character should migrate over to "Dr. Phil" for a nightly cameo so she can get Phil's homespun advice on how to raise her bratty kid. Frankly, I'm a bit tired of watching her mismanage her son for fifteen minutes of eash episode each week. And what happened to the Jeffrey D. Sams character? Has he been written out of the script completely? Maybe he's leading a groudswell effort to reform the cast of "Breaking News" so he'll have a replacement series to fall back on once "Line of Fire" reaches its inevitable demise.
In order to save the series, the writers need to make Jonah (David Paymer) the main character and let his twistedness take over the direction of the show. He is the only character compelling enough to allow "Line of Fire" the luxury of a sustainable viewing audience. And from his secondary business, a little more brothel action would be nice, as well.
There are two more episodes scheduled to air and five more in the can. I have a suspiously sneaky feeling that A.B.C. will bump this show for another lame 'Fake/Reality' series or counter program "The Simple Life" with something equally dubious. As Sam Cooke would say, "Somebody Have Mercy."
"Thats my story and I'm sticking to it"
Like Threat Matrix,Line Of Fire features an antagonist who,pretty much, is the centerpiece of the show in Leslie Bibb,who plays the soccer Mom/FBI agent in which the show goes out of its' way to prove that she is as tough as any male FBI agent out there.In TV land we have rough tough female FBI agents.In real life any FBI agents who are soccer moms aren't out on the field handling cases.The show goes overboard to show how tough Bibb's character can be.
Conversely the mob boss in this show is David Paymer,who is about as hard as a piece of bread.Do not get me wrong,Paymer is a great actor,he is just miscast here.He seems more like Fredo Corleone than Michael Corleone.Because of the characterizations of Bibb's and Paymer's roles,it is hard to take this show seriously.
If one wants to see an ABC series featuring the FBI,check out the old tv series that ABC ran back in the 1960's of the same name,that is somewhat better than this one and one is sure shall last a lot longer without a doubt.
The cast is great but this premise already feels old and worn. Wish I could get into it but that's just not going to happen.
The best acting/role combination is by Brian Goodman as Donovan Stubbin (Malloy's right-hand man). He's very businesslike and believably violent. I think Leslie Hope is a great actress and is very intense, but the role she plays is not believable. Her character seems to be a little out of control to be in her position with the FBI. Still I think she's quite a good actress.
I like David Paymer as an actor, but as a mob boss? Sorry, I can't see it. He's no Tony Soprano. (Why is he the mob boss again?).
The rest look like the cast of a daytime soap opera...and the acting...also from a soap opera. Leslie Bibb (as Paige Van Doren) in particular, looks like a lost little girl. If you're going to play a cop, then act like a cop. I don't think she'll ever be able to pull it off. She is not a cop by any stretch. Anson Mount as Roy Ravelle looks like the leading man of the soap. He's really boring. He is not a cop by any stretch either.
I'm going to wait a while though. What else is there to watch on network TV?