Is it possible to overcome a major tragedy and still not be affected by it? What happens when it threatens everything and everyone you consider to be important? What happens when a new ally offer to help solve the mystery? That’s part of the premise behind NBC’s new show “Taxi Brooklyn,” which had one cop crossing one too many lines to find the truth. Unfortunately, the plot has been done before and its extremely serious didn’t help for it to stand out very much in the premiere. Let’s hope that future episodes should remedy that.
“Taxi Brooklyn” followed Detective Caitlyn “Cat” Sullivan (Chyler Leigh) who struggled with the reality of her father’s murder for over a year, but the case still wasn’t solved after a year has gone by since it happened. She started to get anonymous tips for information about the case, which led her going into a coffee shop looking for her source. Unfortunately, she was interrupted by a high speed chase in a taxi cab after a bank robbery went horribly wrong. Sullivan got behind the wheel of a police car after repeated warnings from her terrified partner Detective Eddie Esposito (Jose Zuniga) not to do it, especially since she was repeatedly in trouble for reckless driving in the past. She got into the high speed chase believing that the tax driver was part of the robbery and treated him like a suspect as well. Fortunately, the chase ended with no real casualties minus the fact that Sullivan totaled another police car and her partner decided to terminate the partnership immediately. Sullivan’s frustrated boss Captain John Baker (James Colby) promised her late father that he would look out for his daughter, but he was at his wit’s end with her. He ended up placing her on foot patrol to avoid her getting behind the wheel of a car and for other forms of workplace disobedience. Meanwhile, Sullivan probed the taxi driver Leo Romba (Jacky Ido) for answers about the robbery as if he was a suspect instead of someone pulled into a dangerous plot. After some further investigating, Leo’s innocence was revealed but Sullivan needed his services to help drive her around the find the true suspects. Caitlyn also had to contend with her suspicious ex FBI Agent Gregg James (Bill Heck) who broke her heart and eager to get back into her good graces for reasons known only to him for now. Luckily, she had the support of Dr. Monica Pena (Jennifer Esposito) and the sometimes unwelcome help from her mother Frankie (Ally Walker). With Leo’s help she solved the case, he also helped to solve another case even more personal to her: her father’s murder. Will Caitlyn and Leo solve the case or die trying?
In terms of questions, the show offered a few but the biggest one pertained to whether the show had true staying power in a television landscape that was already smothered in police procedural shows that tried to mix routine cases with a certain gimmick to keep viewers interested. The series premiere showed some promise with the unique dynamic between the two leads, but the rest of the supporting cast was left with being poorly developed stereotypes for the time being. The episode was full of obvious villains that were evident long before the story revealed their true colors, which even included characters that Caitlyn worked with daily. It also didn’t help that the premise was based on a film called “Taxi” written by Luc Besson that was done before as an action comedy twice on the big screen with different results. The show managed to maintain some of the light humor, but it also took itself way too serious and needed some more moments of levity to make it stand out from every other serious television cop drama on the airwaves. The series would be wise to resolve the story involving Caitlyn solving her father’s murder and moving onto focusing on the unique partnership of Caitlyn and Leo, which was where the humor was truly from. Each episode should focus on the dynamic between the two leads while making their cases a secondary part of the show, since it was very obvious that each case will be resolved by the end of each episode. Another weak plot that needs to be cleared up immediately is the one with Caitlyn’s ex Gregg because viewers know that the on-screen relationship won’t go anywhere because the character appeared to have a hidden agenda when it came to his ex. Maybe, the show could kill two birds with one stone and resolve both plots by tying Gregg into the murder mystery in a way to keep viewers guessing. Once those plots are cleared up, the show could move into a different direction that could turn it into a more darkly comedic series. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
As for breakout performances, Leigh and Ido led the pack as two very different people who managed to form a unique partnership that benefited both of them in the long run. Leigh managed to make Caitlyn both gritty and vulnerable at the same time, which was something she wasn’t always able to do with her past television shows that required her to play the nice girl who managed to pick questionable on-screen suitors. She embodied Caitlyn as an angry police detective who often abused her position because she was unable to overcome her grief over the death of her beloved father. Leigh had a strong rapport with Ido that allowed her to crack a joke or even smile every once in a while. She also managed to make some of the premiere’s weaker stories work in her favor, which was no small feat. Leigh’s strongest scene came towards the end when Ido’s Leo offered to help her solve her father’s murder. She demonstrated her character’s appreciation without having to verbalize it directly. She also had a strong scene with Walker where she explained why she couldn’t let go of what happened to her father and will do anything to get justice by any means necessary, which foreshadowed something dangerous heading her way. Ido, on the other hand, had the challenging task of trying to flesh out a colorful character by humanizing him in a way for viewers to root for him even if the character made some questionable choices in the past. He embodied Leo as both a charming goofball who loved to laugh and make people feel good about themselves when they got into his taxi. Ido also managed to make Leo a loving father who loved his son, even though they were time zones apart from each other. Ido’s strongest scene came when he told Leigh’s Caitlyn about his criminal past and what led him to cross paths with her. The scene made viewers root for the character to stick around no matter what happened in the episode. Let’s hope that the show will continue to give both Leigh and Ido the opportunity to shine before the season, or the series itself, ends.
“Taxi Brooklyn” premiered on June 25th and air Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on NBC.
Verdict: The show’s overly familiar premise and tax cab gimmick threaten to derail the series before it truly got off the ground. Hopefully, some much needed humor will do the trick in future episodes.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)