Written By: Christine Levinson
Draft Date: November 24, 2008 ("production draft")
Category: Thumbs Down
Dear fanboys: please don't flame me. I loved Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck as much as the next BSG fanatic (even if I hated the resolution to her story with Lee, along with, well, the entire post-battle section of the finale). Not the time for that rant.
You'll be pleased to know that, as L&F was developed as a star vehicle for Sackhoff, it's very easy to hear her voice in lead character Tessa Cooper. I mean, really, add the word "frak" in a few places and it practically is Starbuck in high heels (that I may have added in my head, as I don't recall the script actually mentioning footwear) and an LAPD uniform.
You'll be displeased to know that L&F sucks (on a different, but not necessarily lower or higher level than The Forgotten, this pilot season's other missing / unidentified persons show). It's another show with pervading voiceovers... only this show has Tessa in a not-nearly-as-Marlowe-as-she-thinks-she-is way providing the VO work. And when I say "pervade" I really do mean it. Remember Veronica Mars? She could get rather VOy, but at least most of that was funny internal dialogue about someone. L&F's VO falls flat.
Tessa Cooper is a hotheaded detective in some LA precinct. The teaser deals with her putting herself in a victim's headspace in order to figure out a crime... apparently a skill of Tessa's. In this case in involves Katee standing on the railing of a 13th floor hotel room near LAX in her underwear (an image I'm shocked hasn't surfaced as a production still). The VO asks "I'm a 22-year old Asian-American pharmaceutical rep. I drive a Ford Focus and have two cats. Why do I jump?" This, apparently, is Tessa's skill. Internally asking herself the obvious questions. Unfortunately for Tessa, results in some woman letting go of her dog as she yells at Tessa to not jump, the dog runs into traffic, and vehicle-on-vehicle action ensues. Whoops. In the best use of the VO in the script, Tessa is called to her lieutenant's office immediately after and thinks "I should have jumped."
Anyway, Tessa is transferred to the Lost and Found division. Which is in a basement. Where there is no cell reception. There's an ancient computer (script says first generation Pentium... wow) and a rotary phone that gets incoming calls but can't place outgoing calls. And Brian Cox lives there! Well, no, his character, Burt Macey, does. Burt is 55 and, in the last five years, has identified 3 unidentified persons. Go, Burt! Apparently UIDs really are low priority. All the more reason to watch this show... right?
So the pilot deals with Tessa not wanting to be part of this crackerjack UID department and eventually deciding "hey, I can do good work here... at least until I'm out of the doghouse and can be transferred back upstairs. In the meantime, she'll be VOing to herself such gems as "I'm a big black man, 18 to 35 years old. I have a class ring on a chair around my neck and a Viking helmet. Who am I?" and "I'm a Latino woman, 40 to 55 years old. I'm wearing a business suit and carrying a leather briefcase full of ping pong balls. Who am I?"
I really do think that a unidentified persons series could work... but neither this nor The Forgotten do it for me.