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Saturday, September 13, 2014

'Golden Boy' CS DVD: NYPD Gold

Golden Boy: The Complete First Season
Watching every episode in the Warner Archive DVD release of the 2013 CBS drama "Golden Boy" prompts terrific memories of the more classic series about New York police detectives "NYPD Blue."

One nice variation is that titular blessed one Walter Clark, played by Theo James, is not the meathead rookie type that former teen idols Marc-Paul "Zac" Gosselar and Rick "Don't Call Me Ricky" Schroder play on "Blue." Hearing the Rickster say "absolutely" one more time would have triggered a psychotic break.

Another pleasant difference is that television veteran (including voice actor for Nick Fury in Marvel animated series) Chi McBride is a kinder gentler version of Sipowicz in his portrayal of Clark's veteran partner/"rabbi" Don Owen. Having Owen being two years from retirement adds an amusing cliched element to his character.

The overall successful concept of "Golden" is that Clark takes an unprecedented meteoric rise in the NYPD from patrolman rookie to police commissioner in seven years. Each episode opens with a scene seven years in the future in which Clark is giving an interview, making a speech, or otherwise engaged in activity that ties into the topic of the episode.

A broad example of the future-present theme is the interviewer asking Clark about a past acquaintance and the action then flashing back to the present to portray the relevant events. The episodes then end with a "back to the future" epilog.

The only real flaw regarding the aforementioned concept is that the audience knows that Clark does not die or become permanently disabled in any of the shootouts that are one staple of urban-based police dramas.

The only other real criticism of "Golden" is that the writers go a bit overboard in using a chase of a suspect ending in an apprehension as a pre-commercial scene-ending device and having an interrogation at the start of the post-commercial scene. This is adequately predictable that one watching this series in the pre-VCR era safely could have gotten up for a bathroom break on seeing Clark and/or his colleagues approach a suspect.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Golden" awesomely conveys everything that you need to know about the series in a proverbial 25 seconds or less.

The pilot expertly strikes the proper balance between exposition and getting right into the action in depicting the heroic act that earns Clark both his rapid advancement to the position of homicide detective and his titular nickname. He quickly further displays his ambitious nature regarding his first case.

This episode further establishes the basis of the adversarial relationship between Owen and (purple loving) hot-shot mid-career detective Christian Arroyo. The relationship between Arroyo and Clark does not go any better.

The second episode further establishes the lore of the series in having Arroyo set up Clark. The case  this time involves the indications that an "innocent" toward whom Clark feels sympathy may not be as free of guilt as our hero believes.

The remaining episodes similarly often involve elements that are personal to a member of the homicide squad. This more often than not is Owen, including one case in which the brother of a former informant is the subject of an investigation.

The dirty dealings of Clark's colleagues make up a large portion of the wonderful drama in "Golden." Arroyo acting to prevent Owen from receiving a promotion is at one end of the scale; a malicious frame-up of Clark is at the other.

In many respects the season (and series) finale is the best of episodes and the worst of episodes. Having the investigation by Clark of the one cold case that continues to bother Owen tie into a current case is well presented. Further, that case providing a format for showing Owen as the rookie whom a veteran officer is mentoring makes for good (if again cliched) television.

The negative aspect of this is having the flashback period revolve around the 911 attacks and placing Owen and his new partner in the middle of this in a rather contrived and predictable manner. No one disputes that the attacks were brutal and highly significant, but it seems that producers of modern NYC-based dramas go to this well far too often. Doing so seems more manipulative than a sincere homage to the impact of those genuine game changing events.

At the same time, the "Golden" characters are adequately intriguing and the cliffhanger sufficiently compelling to prompt a strong desire for at least a Made-for-TV (or DVD) Movie that wraps up the series and provides more insight regarding how Clark gets the corner office.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Golden" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.