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Smart. Sexy. Tough. Karen Sisco is a United States marshal on Miami's Gold Coast. In pursuit of dangerous fugitives, Karen must pick her way through the dark underbelly of South Beach nightlife and the sunshine and glitz of Palm Beach highlife while she struggles to win the respect of her supervisor and fellow officers. Karen is a barely concealed weapon who can take down a suspect twice her size. The only man she truly trusts is her father a retired marshal with a wealth of life experience and street smarts. He's Karen's confidant, counselor, confessor and her rock when her confidence wavers which it does every time she tries to connect romantically with a man. Based on the character portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in Elmore Leonard's Out of Sight, Karen Sisco is that rare combination of action and character-drama, with a fresh and original young lead. Written by
While all the pieces are there, "Sisco" never quite finds the right tone to reach the quirky crime series nirvana I hoped for
Network: ABC; Genre: Crime/Mystery, Action, Drama; Content Rating: TV-PG (violence and some language); Available: reruns on Sluth; Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 -4);
Seasons Reviewed: Complete Series (1 season , 10 episodes)
In 1998, out-of-the-blue, ABC delivered a criminally unseen and wondrously entertaining little (6 episodes) masterpiece called "Maximum Bob". "Bob" was a flawless translation, a free-roaming piece of quirky TV magic, better than just about every Leonard adaptation big or small screen to date. "Karen Sisco" is the network and producers Danny DeVito and Barry Sonnenfeld's 2nd attempt to wrestle an Elmore Leonard novel onto the small screen and the results this time are not nearly as impressive. "Sisco" spins off "Out of Sight" Federal Marshal Karen Sisco (Carla Gugino, "Spin City") as she tracks down parole jumpers in Miami, Florida.
Compared to "Bob", "Sisco" restrains itself into a TV crime/mystery template and for the most part lacks the wild non-linear storytelling and, with the exception of "Dumb Bunnies" (featuring DeVito, Rhea Pearlman, Kevin Dillon, a series of gruff henchmen and a grenade), the quirky hobby pre-occupied characters of a Leonard novel. For such a light, colorful series, "Sisco" remains flat pretty consistently. It is too serious to be quirky and too quirky to be serious, a balance that it never comes to grips with. The mysteries aren't particularly clever, the action routine, the dialog uninspired - although you wouldn't know that just watching Robert Forster who gives a wily performance as Karen's retired father Marshall. Yes, Marshal Marshall Sisco. Credit also goes to Gary Cole and Xander Berkley who guest star in memorable, colorful characters.
Propping up the series is Gugino who lends a casual sexiness that smartly isn't too played up - to Karen's tough-gal attitude. But the show makes the death-blow mistake of under-writing our lead which makes Karen a pretty dry and uninteresting heroine. The only way the show can think to humanize her is to end each episode with a moment of bonding between her and her "daddy". Forster and Gugino sell the hell out of the chemistry but I can't shake the feeling I'm being manipulated into a happy ending for all the families out there. "Sisco" follows "Alias" as another show with a butt-kicking heroine who needs her in-the-business dad's shoulder to lean on.
Maybe I'm wrong to be so tough on "Karen Sisco". It isn't bad. It just never revs up. It never quite finds itself, and wasn't on the air long enough to reach the quirky crime series nirvana it should have. I expected so much more and was, personally, profoundly disappointed.
* * / 4
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