Is it possible for stalking to be considered a crime when nothing was done? What happens when the situation goes from slightly terrifying to downright disturbing? Who can people turn to for help? That’s part of the premise behind CBS’ new show “Stalker,” which followed an elite unit of cops who help to put these predators behind bars before they cross a line that can’t be undone. Sure, the premise has been done before to some extent, but the scares are really genuine and can make viewers jump on occasions.
“Stalker” followed various LAPD detectives from the Threat Assessment Unit who investigated various cases of stalking that went from harassment to extreme fixations that could lead to something a lot more lethal if overlooked for too long. The unit was run by Lt. Beth Davis (Maggie Q) who was a tough resourceful cop when it came to catching people stalking innocent victims before they turned into possible murderers. She was very good at her job, because she understood where the various victims were coming from. She has been traumatized by a painful part of her past that makes it very hard for her to trust anyone, especially when it came to knowing her real name as it turned out. Her past was so brutal that she had to hide who she was from the rest of the world. Beth’s secretative nature made all the more intriguing for recent transfer Det. Jack Larsen (Dylan McDermott) who was eager to be liked by everyone and was transferred from his last assignment from the NYPD for reasons known only to his ex (Elisabeth Rohm). Beth also relied on Det. Ben Caldwell (Victor Rasuk) who was developing a rivalry with Jack as to who can be the top detective and impress Beth the most. While Ben was battling Jack, Det. Janice Lawrence (Mariana Klaveno) was angling to get to know Jack on a more personal nature. She had a one night stand with him, but she was eager to become his friend and learn all his secrets. Janice might be shocked at the skeletons in Jack’s closet, especially the fact that he had become a stalker himself as he secretly watched his son from afar. He briefly met him in passing, but nothing else has come of his stalking as of yet. Will Beth be able to handle her past coming to light or a new threat coming her way ready to expose everything?
In terms of questions, the show’s biggest ones involved whether Jack’s secret will come out before Beth’s and in what fashion will it impact the rest of the cast. Both main characters had secrets that involved one being a stalker (Jack) and the other a former victim (Beth). Each plot had the potential of being a game changer for the show, but the only problem was that each plot had been done before. In a way, it seemed kind of cliche for a strong female character to have a past as a victim who worked hard to leave that part of her life behind. That plot point has been done to death on the big and small screens. The show should’ve made Q’s character more of a hunter rather than the hunted. Q’s Beth should’ve had Jack’s storyline, while McDermott’s Jack had hers. It would have been a real twist for a female lead to be seen as a potential aggressor rather than a victim once again. In recent years, McDermott has seemed to have gravitated to roles where his character seemed to be one way, but he had a dark side that was itching to come out. It’s a shame that he didn’t have Q’s storyline as someone running from a painful past under a different name. McDermott and Q both play their parts really well, but the disappointing aspect that their main stories were just too familiar at times. Hopefully, the show will be swift in resolving at least one of them sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed that it’s the one involving McDermott’s Jack stalking his ex. The plot is almost too murky to have any real genuine scares. The best solution would be shed some light on a few of Jack’s secrets to explain the possible impact it could have if one of them came out. Overall, the show provided some genuine thrills with the cases of the week, because each episode presented the possibility of danger lurking around every corner and could anyone a target given the wrong timing and circumstances. In the series premiere, there was a sequence of a stalking victim being cornered by her stalker in a locked car and paying for it with her life when the car was lit on fire. It was a shocking way to start the show, but it has remained memorable as the season progressed.
As for breakout performances, Q, Klaveno and McDermott led the pack for very different reasons. Q’s Beth was depicted as a strong woman who built a steel wall around herself in an effort to not get hurt again. She managed to make the idea of Beth of being victimized by her past and her present danger with a sense of growing dread as her new stalker grew closer to learning the truth about her identity. Q embodied Beth as someone who could take care of herself while she fought bad guys and was able to crack the occasional joke with McDermott’s Jack. Hopefully, viewers will get to see a different side to Q’s often buttoned up character as a way to gain some new insight. Her strongest scene came in the series premiere when she confronted a college kid turned stalker in a parking lot. She was able to express her anger physically and verbally in a way that could any criminal run away and never look back. Klaveno’s Janice was often saddled with the supporting femme fatale role as her character pretended to be one of the guys, while she secretly wanted the same things that every other woman wanted: love and acceptance. She had a nice rapport with McDermott’s Jack and she was able to demonstrate Janice’s hurt over Jack’s distant behavior, but the story needs a minor twist to overlook the usual workplace hook-up story that has been depicted endlessly on other shows. McDermott, on the other hand, had the more challenging task of making Jack a credible character, even though his on-screen behavior was left something to be desired. He embodied Jack as a bundle of nervous energy as he tried extra hard to win everyone over, but he ignored the fact that not everyone is going to like you no matter what you do to please them. McDermott had a nice rapport going with all of his leading ladies, but he needs to find a way to tone down Jack’s nervous energy and channel it in a way to further examine why he was stalking his ex in the first place. A few well placed flashbacks could do the trick as long as they were tied to a current case that doesn’t distract viewers too much. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
“Stalker” premiered on October 1st and airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on CBS.
Verdict: Despite some promising thrills that will make viewers jump, there are a few long term stories that could use some improvement or get resolved before the audience starts to lose interest.
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)