‘Golden Boy’ Pilot Recap: “I Pay Attention”

Wait’ll you hear the pitch for CBS’ new detective series ‘Golden Boy’. See, we’ve got these two cops, but they’re totally mismatched buddies. One is black, but the other’s white, kind of like salt and pepper. One is young and brash, and the other’s old and grizzled. Crazy, right? Why has nobody done this before?

As the ‘Pilot’ episode starts, Walter Clark (Theo James) is a rookie beat cop who stumbles onto an armed robbery, stops the bad guys, and saves his partner’s life. Fast forward seven years, and he’s the youngest police commissioner in New York history. Wait a second, we must have missed something in between there. Back up a little and we find Walter celebrated in the media as a hero cop. The police brass let this golden boy write his own ticket, and he asks to be promoted to Homicide.

The other detectives there hate the young snot who thinks he knows everything and hasn’t paid his dues. They partner him up with “I’m too old for this sh—” burn-out Detective Owen (Chi McBride), who’s just two years from retirement and doesn’t want to deal with the kid’s foolishness. Cocky and ambitious, Walter’s eager to not just prove himself, but to prove himself better than everybody else. He tries to show up the veteran detectives on his first case, which successfully brown-noses his superiors but doesn’t exactly endear him to the people he has to work with day-to-day. Naturally, in doing so, he also has to learn some important lessons about his limitations and the benefits of experience.

The details of the first case aren’t particularly memorable. This is a standard procedural show. Somebody dies, the cops sort through some red herrings, our brilliant hero figures out an important clue that nobody else sees, and eventually the bad guy gets caught. Yadda yadda.

The gimmick of the show is that we know Walter’s eventual fate, but we don’t know how he gets there. The flash-forwards drop hints about scandal and controversy in his rise to prominence. Those details will have to be fleshed out as the show goes on. If it goes on.

Is that twist enough to distinguish ‘Golden Boy’ from a hundred other procedural cop shows on the air? Unfortunately, not really. However, the premiere is appealingly stylish and colorful. The series also has a good cast. (In addition to the leads, supporting players include Kevin Alejandro from ‘True Blood’, Holt McCallany from ‘Lights Out’, and Richard Kind.) There’s nothing really wrong with it, per se. At the same time, the first episode doesn’t offer anything compelling enough to hook me. I’d probably watch the show if it turned up on the TV above the elliptical machine at my gym, but I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to record it every week. Of course, CBS specializes in exactly that kind of show, so this one will probably run for twenty years.

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