Flashpoint Blasted by USA Today

LOS ANGELES–Like a sniper high up in a protected perch, USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco took lethal aim at Flashpoint this morning. “Here’s yet one more thing we can blame on the writers’ strike,” he begins. “Surely had CBS not been terrified that it would run out of product, it would not have imported the Canadian cop show Flashpoint.” The series, which stars Enrico Colantoni and Hugh Dillon, premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on both CBS and CTV.
While his pen is often dipped in acid, Bianco’s stinging review–he calls the series “violent, ugly and stupid”–could not be more negative. (Read the rest of it here.) Don’t look for CTV to pull any quotes to slap on that giant Flashpoint billboard at Yonge and Dundas Square.
Most telling is Bianco’s observation that the elite police squad series seems “stuck in some purposely unidentified city (the better to sell the show elsewhere).” The producers and stars of this series boasted with pride at the CTV upfront in June that the setting was unabashedly Toronto, that this wasn’t just another series with T.O., standing in for Chicago or New York. Bianco didn’t see it that way, and perhaps some of us overestimated the impact of seeing Queens Park or the Commerce Court on screen as a T.O. calling card. Maybe it is hard to tell exactly where this show is set. Still, Bianco seemed to resent just the notion that CBS was down to importing shows. Was this just another “America First” view, a chance to damn a show just for being Canadian?
No, he just thought it was crap, as he reiterated at breakfast this morning.
Other American critics were kinder to the show. Buffalo News columnist Alan Pergament agreed with me that Flashpoint just played like an old-fashioned ’70s cop show.
Having visited the cast and crew on a location shoot last month, and enjoying great conversations with the stars and executive producers Anne Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos, I was pulling for Flashpoint to succeed. And while the jury is still out until the ratings come in over the weekend, this widely read U.S. review had to put a dent in all their cornflakes this morning.
Can’t disagree with Bianco’s observation that CBS has buried it on Friday night, “one of TV’s traditional dead zones.” Still, his “leave it to die in peace” sign off seems like overkill, even for a series about a sniper.

One Response to “Flashpoint Blasted by USA Today”

  1. My issue with that USA Today review is that it’s not really a review – he could have just written “I HATED it” and it would have had as much substance. The only value of a professional critic, in a world where anyone can share an opinion, is the skill and background to provide a reasoned, contextual response. There are bloggers who hated it and explained why far more intelligently.

    Tom Shales of the Washington Post made the same comment about the unidentified city, and I think it’s a fair comment. The show is trying to have it both ways, by not explicitly saying it’s Toronto but lingering on Toronto shots that only those familiar with the city will recognize.

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