Season 1 Air Date: May 15th – July 17th 2018 (Bravo); August 7th – October 9th 2018 (WGN America)
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Carter (Season 1)
Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Sydney Tamiia Poiter, Varun Saranga, Matt Baram, Kristian Bruun, Brenda Kamino, Joanne Boland, John Bourgeois, Denis Akiyama
Hands up if you can name all of the genres of every TV show there ever was, and be completely right? As in, say every single genre there ever was in terms of TV shows…nope, me neither. But you have to agree there are a lot of them. Lawyer shows (Suits, The Good Wife, Bull, The Good Fight, For The People, Law And Order, Damages, Boston Legal, The Practice, The Guardian, The Grinder, Ally McBeal, Fairly Legal, Rake), medical shows (Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor, The Resident, House, The Night Shift, Doc Martin, ER, Private Practice, Hart Of Dixie, Royal Pains, Body Of Proof), superhero shows (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends Of Tomorrow, Smallville, Agents Of Shield, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Gifted, Heroes, Black Lightning, Cloak And Dagger), teen dramas (One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, 90210, Veronica Mars, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Riverdale, 13 Reasons Why, Teen Wolf, Glee, Roswell, Dawson’s Creek) and family dramas (Parenthood, Packed To The Rafters, Brothers And Sisters, This Is Us, The Fosters, Switched At Birth, Gilmore Girls, Fuller House, 7th Heaven, Touched By An Angel) are probably the most common scripted shows on TV right now- yet there is one genre above all, I reckon, that will continue to keep going, even if all the others fail and collapse.
Cop shows have been going on for forever. Good guys v bad guys, procedural elements, a sense of justice, two mismatched partners (one usually a cop and the other a civilian), sometimes romantic/sexual tension if the two leads are male and female… and since the dawn of time (well, not really, but maybe since Get Smart, Starsky And Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, Magnum PI, Hawaii 5-0, Columbo and Kojack way back in the 70’s and 80’s!), we’ve been blessed to see the world work as it should on our screens. We see murderers go to prison and the victims gaining closure and compensation. Shows like Monk, Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes, Psych, Harrow, Forever, Lethal Weapon, Bones, White Collar, Castle, The Mentalist, Longmire, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli And Isles, Cold Case, NYPD Blue, True Detective and The Bridge to name a few, have each taught us that sometimes the simplest shows are the most satisfying. Sure there are a few twists and turns, but in the grand scheme of things- aside from some character development; what we see is what we get.
Cops chasing leads and busting people for murder or for kidnapping or for any number of unsavoury activities, is quite satisfying to us viewers- as it is a reflection of the way the world should be- for any of us shows like these become personal as we see on the news all the time someone having their jail sentence reduced, or we personally know someone who was a victim of a crime. I think the reason why cop shows over any other show does well, is because at the most basic level, all of us want to see the good guys win and the bad guys lose- this just happens to be the simplest format where it occurs. Which brings me to Carter, the latest cop show to debut on TV (Bravo in Canada and WGN America in America). Airing its 10-episode first season recently; what do I make of this somewhat same, same, but different cop show- does it stand out, and does the show warrant your viewership, as we wait for a season two renewal announcement?
Set in Canada, Carter stars Jerry O’Connell as Harley Carter, a fun, happy-go-lucky TV detective who has headlined his own drama for years- and after a very public meltdown at an awards show, culminating in him punching the man his wife was having an affair with; he returns back home (somewhere in Canada!) to reconnect with his long lost friends and family, inclusive of cop Sam (Sidney Tamiia Poitier) and barista Dave (Kristian Bruun). Somewhere along the pilot episode though, Harley gets roped into solving actual crimes, as we see his life imitating the art he portrayed in his own TV show. Essentially that’s Carter– and by the end of the pilot episode, Harley can add ‘consulting detective’ to his resume, as the captain of the precinct begrudgingly allows him to partner up with Sam to solve cases.
Sound a bit ho-hum? Like Castle or Bones or The Mentalist or even the most recent Take Two? Despite similarities to each of these shows, Carter stands tall all on its own, partly due to the ability of the leads (especially Jerry and Kristian) to not take themselves too seriously, providing us with comedic jokes and tons of meta-show references. Long and short of it is that the cast of Carter feed of each other quite well, and make references and slight jabs to the TV, enough so that we can see that it’s a comedy-drama, and not a drama-drama. And with that respect, though it’s not a groundbreaking nor reflective nor mysterious show; Carter is entertaining, and one of my favourite feel-good shows of 2018.
While I’m not going to give away what happens in Carter– other than that there are a number of wacky and out-of-this-world cases that are too farfetched for reality, and the characters make fun of that saying that ‘this would only happen in your show, Carter!’; watching the first season is as enjoyable as going to the beach on a summer’s day or watching the fireworks on New Years’ Eve. It’s just something that I reckon you all will love regardless if you like cop shows or not. It’s nothing too hard or painful that you need to pay attention to, and Carter is very light-hearted. Hopefully the show is renewed- but given the over-saturation of cop shows on TV right now (as well as the Chicago shows as well as 9-1-1); I wouldn’t hold my breath. Regardless though, Jerry has delivered a fine performance- his best since The Defenders in 2010, and Kristian has found the perfect role after Donnie in Orphan Black. The show finished airing in the U.S. last week, so I reckon the DVD will release by year’s end. Whenever it goes, I encourage you to check it out. You will be pleasantly surprised at just how much you laugh at the craziness, as well as smile because of the order restored to the chaotic world.
Did the 1st season of Carter leave a lasting impression on you? Did any themes in the episodes speak to you, and which was it? What elements of the show did you enjoy watching?
Are you eagerly anticipated a possible Season 2, like myself? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Monk, Longmire, Rizzoli and Isles, Bones, White Collar
Rating: 4/5 (based on 10 episode)
Carter Season 1 aired every Tuesday at 10/9c on WGN America.