CBS’s half-baked “Golden Boy”

The story of an ambitious young cop glosses the details

Topics: golden boy, TV, Television,

CBS's half-baked "Golden Boy"

“Golden Boy,” a new, marginally-better-than-workmanlike crime show on CBS, is saddled with a very odd framing device: In the present day, young, handsome, prideful police officer Walter Clark — Theo James, “Downton Abbey’s” dashing, dead, virginity-thieving Pamuk— has just made the homicide squad, thanks to a high-profile shooting. Seven years in the future, Clark’s the youngest police commissioner in New York City history. The show is the story of how he got that job, and each episode begins and ends with a brief scene of Commissioner Clark talking vaguely about the lesson he extracted from whatever case he and his partner cracked in the meat of the episode.

The frame is meant to elevate “Golden Boy” above simple procedural, but it is so clankily done, the creators shouldn’t have bothered. In the first episode a journalist asks, “Tell me, Commissioner, are you a master politician or just a savvy cop?” to get the story started. In future episodes, the commissioner’s body man asks blatantly expository, wooden questions to elicit a tale. In the second episode, Commissioner Clark’s gray hairs — he’s had some stresses in the intervening seven years, including a “murder suicide and a precinct shootout” alluded to in the pilot — look a deep blond: the golden boy has aged into … a man with golden highlights.

Compared to the flash-forwards, the procedural elements hum along. Of the four episodes I saw, two ended with handwritten confessions from the guilty parties, and two cases involved the personal lives of major characters, so it’s not a strikingly realistic cop show, but James is nice to look at and has a hypnotically good working-class American accent for a Brit. Furthermore his Clark is a real operator, a good guy with a big ego, who is not constitutionally above taking shortcuts and is keen to manage up. “Golden Boy” seems particularly interested in exploring the political angles of the police department (though not at all the precinct where Clark works), which is a promising lens for a show (as well as a nice poach from “The Wire”).



But “Golden Boy’s” half-bakedness — part totally competent TV show, part lazily executed one — permeates throughout. Chi McBride co-stars as Clark’s mentor and partner, a low-key homicide cop rejuvenated by the chance to mold this young man. “True Blood’s” Kevin Alejandro plays a jerky, macho, but also competent detective and a thickly accented Bonnie Sommerville appears as his tough partner. But the squad’s lieutenant is a walking, talking cardboard cutout, who delivers orders with no intonation and then leaves. When houses need to get busted into — which happens often — it’s only ever the four aforementioned cops breaking down the door.  “Golden Boy’s” main character is ultra-ambitious, but the show’s not ambitious enough to nail the details.

Willa Paskin

Willa Paskin is Salon's staff TV writer.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>