King & Maxwell Series Premiere Review: Another Formulaic Addition to TNT's Ampersand Family (and That's Okay)

King & Maxwell S01E01: "Pilot"

One of the questions I hear all the time, from people on Twitter and even my parents, is why people don't talk about and/or review procedurals. Because in reality, procedural television is much more popular with general audiences than stuff like Mad MenGame of Thrones, and Community. Yet, we typically eschew coverage of procedurals because oftentimes, it's difficult to find things to say about them every week. I personally enjoy a large number of procedural series, but few of them are worth analyzing on a regular basis. No shots, they're just different kinds of shows. 

I say all this to preface the statement that King & Maxwell is a show that I could very easily see myself watching this summer. I literally didn't know anything about its premise until yesterday, but after watching the pilot, I have set a season pass, and I'll probably watch every episode. But that doesn't mean the new TNT drama is exceptionally good, or even that interesting. This premiere featured a few out-of-nowhere moments, but mostly stuck to very familiar territory and relied on the still-developing chemistry between its leads, Jon Tenney (as King) and Rebecca Romijn (as Maxwell). Barring something really fascinating or weird happening in the next few episodes, I can't imagine that I'll want to write about it again, but that's okay. King & Maxwell is just fine, and it's okay for TV shows to be just fine.

The detective duo conceit, mixed gender or not, is about as played-out as you can get, but it still works when the two halves of the duo in question bounce off one another well. TNT certainly doesn't have any patents on this framework, but the network seemingly wants to have as many shows as possible with two names linked by an "and" or an ampersand in the title. In the channel's grand scheme of things, King & Maxwell falls somewhere between Rizzoli & Isles (good enough) and Franklin and Bash (I love Mark Paul Gosslear as much as the next '90s kid, but bro, that show is bad). Weirdly, Rizzoli & Isles and Franklin and Bash don't have the narrative capability to resolve any sort of sexual tension (though I'm sure Tumblr is taking care of that just fine), but King & Maxwell jumped into that path of storytelling pretty quickly. The two titular characters are disgraced ex-Secret Service agents who now run their own makeshift private-eye firm, and while there is clearly great respect between King and Maxwell, he's not shy about leering into the bathroom while she showers or getting huffy when she brings up old flames. The show is based on a series of novels from popular author David Baldacci, and apparently the characters keep things platonic in that medium; we'll see their relationship translates to television, where producers revel in toying with viewers' hearts.

There's not too much more overt sexual tension between the two, but the pilot does rely on the type of banter that all these shows rely on. You know the kind—they're quipping non-stop, finishing each other's sentences, and badgering each other about things disassociated from the current case. Somewhat surprisingly, the banter is solid enough. Tenney and Romijn are still figuring things out, and at times, Shane Brennan's pilot script didn't do them any favors (she's organized, but messy! He's a wild card, but crafts smart plans!). However, both of the leads are seasoned television pros, and they kept scenes moving forward with enough energy that the exposition about their pasts ("We've been partners for almost 12 months") didn't drag down the proceedings too much. Still, the premiere was a too heavy on backstory tidbits and character definition; King is a Secret Service agent turned lawyer turned private investigator who is also an expert hacker, and probably a gourmet sous chef as well. 

But we while we know the titular duo will be a constant, I'm a little curious to see what King & Maxwell looks like on a week-to-week basis, because the episodic plot is a kind of nuts. Not only did it get excessively confusing in the final act of the pilot, bringing in multiple stuffy government types who were poorly defined and not necessarily interesting, but it also relied on a character named Edgar Roy (played by Sons of Anarchy's Ryan Hurst) and what amounted to some kind of amalgamation of the machine from Person of Interest, the technology Batman used in The Dark Knight, and whatever the hell that thing was in Eagle Eye. For a TNT procedural, a story about surveillance societies and expert Autistic savants felt pretty weird (and also pretty weirdly prescient in some ways). By the time the conclusion rolled around and King, Maxwell, and Edgar were standing in some dark facility that accessed All the Information, I didn't feel like it totally tracked. It more or less felt like a confounding end to a novel, which makes some sense. Is Edgar sticking around? Probably. Will the weirdo super-computer be a thing? I don't know; that seems a little high-concept for this kind of show.

Ultimately though, it doesn't really matter. King & Maxwell is far from great, but also far from poor. It's the sort of populist fare that does big business for TNT, especially in the summer, and though I don't want to talk about it much more, I'll probably be watching right along with you.


LEFTOVER AMPERSANDS

– Shane Brennan has made or helped make very popular television shows like NCIS and NCIS: LA. This show is right in his wheelhouse, and I suspect it'll be in better shape than some of its peers because of his involvement.

– Michael Katleman's direction was actually kind of interesting. His use of different color filters (the blues, oranges, and yellows were most obvious) wasn't the kind of touch you regularly see in pilots like this—even if he probably overdid it by end of the episode.

– I'd be curious to hear from some book fans how well this pilot tracks with its source material. Should I expect more super-computer?


Did you tune in for King & Maxwell's premiere? What'd you think? 

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actually, Edgar is the expert hacker.
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I am enjoying it. Unrealistic yes, procedural yes, light yes, not to be taken seriously yes. I just don't want the will they wont they scenario so over that and it often ruins a show. I enjoy watching Edgar & I love Dichen Lachman. She is gorgeous & an Aussie. She was great in Dollhouse. Does anyone know how many eps this season & any news on renewal or too soon?
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Ok for starters, I have read every Baldacci novel and Michele Maxwell is one of my favorite female protagonist. In fact, I quote Sean King the first time her saw a picture of Michelle. A high school all-American in basketball and track, and a heavy weight academic as well. Georgetown grad, with criminal justice as a major. Took second in the Olympics in woman rowing. Handsome, yeah she had masculine qualities. Broad shoulders, probably from rowing. And yet she has a femine side. She was over five-nine (Sean BTW is well over six feet), despite her broad shoulders, she was slender, but had nice subtle curves. Her shoulder-length BLACK hair was straight and stylish. High cheek bone. Get the point, don't get me wrong, Rebecca Romijn is HOT and plays a great Maxwell, but she's not Maxwell. The first time I read her description, I said Angie Harmon, but wait she's Rizzoli on TNT. I have been wondering why there's only six King & Maxwell books. Baldacci got payed off. So fans, expect in the next novel, although I doubt there will be one, because King and Maxwell were about to hook up. TNT won't let that happen. So in the next book, it will start knida like this.
"Hey King, where's my coffee."
"Michelle, I love you as a BLOND... lets hook up. Edgar, take the day off. Here's a couple of bucks go get a hotdog or two."
Jon Tenney plays a good King, but he needs lifters in his shoes. At least Romijn plays a tough ass, because the real Maxwell could kick his ass.
So yeah... I like it anyway. Great show.
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I'm a sucker for procedurals and dynamic duos. When I seen the previews, and seen who was starring in the show, I was sold. When it comes to summer programming it's easy to be a little lax, you just kinda go along with the easy breeziness, for the sake of having something to watch. I like some of the TNT shows, so this worked for me. It is funny, because this whole odd couple who somehow manage to make a great team despite their differences thing is a staple, and old one, and yet for whatever reason it never really gets old. It always seems to work.
-Rebecca and Jon have a great chemistry onscreen. It's difficult to see that in most shows in a pilot, but they definitely pulled if off. It's that chemistry that has me thinking this will be another hit for them. They're convincing and fun to watch. I love the banter and volleying off of one another. I definitely enjoyed that more than Franklin & Bash which is...whatever that is, and I could possibly enjoy it more than Rizzoli& Isles, which I watch just to watch, but don't always enjoy as much as most shows I watch.
- I kinda respect that they didn't even attempt to pretend like these two are platonic. I think in most cases with the guy/girl duo they like to go back and forth between teasing the audience with the possibility or flat out saying it ain't gonna happen. They didn't pretend. King was totally checking out her out as most, normal straight dudes would have done, and Maxwell knew it didn't give a crap. I liked that. There is a drama free aspect to that.
- I also found the chemistry between the two so remarkable because they almost oversold it. They seem to know each other in and out, and have a practiced rapport like two people who have worked with one another for years. If I'm not mistaken they said they had only been working together in that capacity for 12 months. I was expecting some more mileage in their partnership the way they were carrying out.
-I never read the books, so I like the Private Investigator thing as well. We see cop buddies, we see a cop with a consultant, we see lawyers. We don't see two P.I's. Two P.I's with no real affiliation with a law firm or police station means, as the pilot highlighted rather hilariously, that these two will get into lots of freaking trouble. A little law breaking, less restrictions means they up the ante with the drama and the risks. That's promising. I love that. I'm already wondering just how many times they've been arrested. They seemed use to it. LOL.
-Soooo agree about the rain man stuff. I was totally thinking about Eagle Eye too. We have the stereotypical Autistic savant. All this techno hooplah. Conspiracies in the making. It seemed all over the place, and yet not enough to detract me from watching.
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Liked the show and found the storyline different enough to be interesting. But I have a question. Why was the "serial killer" in prison when he had yet to stand trial? In Milwaukee, Jeffery Dahmer stayed in the downtown jail until after his conviction.
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I love Jon Tenney, you bet I'll be watching.
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Well, that escalated quickly! I've read this book - yes, a whole novel from which this single episode was compressed. It was a long long story in print, and the pilot really didn't manage to tell the story properly in just 50 minutes. So many details and intrigues missing. But still - it was quite an enjoyable show, and I too will surely be watching the following episodes!
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we can t expect too much from summers series. Well all I expect is light action, funny series to fill in for my favs during the break. So yes the books are pretty good, the series a a bit less but enjoyable for a couple in its early thirthie so we ll follow. Hoppefully the characters will be introduced properly within a few episodes more than saying both of them lost their protectees.
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My favorite Baldacci series is King and Maxwell and I am so happy that TNT is doing this show. I believe that the pilot episode was mainly based off of the last King and Maxwell novel, The Sixth Man, with a lot of information missing. If you feel like you missed something you might want to read the book.
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The problem with procedural shows are that even if I watched the 1st few episodes or even a season, I usually get bored after that. Most of these shows also focus on the case of the week so much that it usually is very slow on character personal story development and thus give me little emotional investment and also easier for me to give up. I might try this because of Rebecca Romijin but I doubt I will last more than a few episodes. One of my all time favorite show The Good Wife has a case of the week too but its has so much character personal stories and fantastic guest stars kept me interested for years.
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You got to love a show that starts out with a guy dressed as a beaver driving a stolen bus.
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It did not get off to a good start... Rebecca Romijn in a turtleneck, c'mon she's way to hot for that...

Besides that, it was sloppy at times (after they beat up the bodyguards they walked away from their car) and I agree that a ridiculous storyline did not help. Lately it has become a trend to have huge story-lines with ridiculous plots solved and wrapped up in a single episode (yes Defiance I'm talking to you!) and it makes for sloppy television. This particular story-line I feel could and should have functioned as a seasonal arc. But... I can live with it for now...as stated above...it's just a procedural, but a procedural with Rebecca Romijn in it.
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As someone who has read (or at least listened to the audiobook versions) the King & Maxwell series (as well as almost all of Baldacci's other books) I would say the producers made a mistake in not starting off with how King and Maxwell met and the circumstances around their forming a partnership. That could have a very compelling opening two-episode arc that would have established the reason for their relationship. Hopefully, this will be dealt with in future episodes. I'm looking forward to watching it develop and hope it's successful.
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That would have been interesting. I know though, for most procedurals they like to do that flashback origins thing. I can see them doing that.
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I didn't hate it but I wish I had Southland back instead :(
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king & maxwell is better than rizzoli & isles IMO. never watched the zach morris show because I skip legal dramas. anyway rizzoli and isles and grown unfortunately stale. I still give every episode a shot but they're the same thing every week. king & maxwell's 'action packed opened' was absolutely the worst part of the episode. that and the black chick who I convinced myself was bad from the beginning because she was unnecessarily obnoxious. all of the storyline I gave a pass while focusing on how they handled it because it's a TNT show. I expected far from brilliant. expect more edgar for sure not only is he listed on imdb for the same number of episodes as the rest of the cast (3) but I also saw him sitting in a chair behind king and maxwell during the preview for next week's episode. in conclusion i'll keep watching because it isn't bad. and rebecca romijn.
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I enjoyed something I'd follow but not my favorite Perception is my fav on TNT right now.
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Looked like it was a good pilot to watch while I wait for Dr. Isles :)
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Me too...
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TNT knows drama and cop procedurals. The fact its TNT is reason enough to watch. Nuff said
PS: I like it already after watching the pilot and am interested in seeing where the story goes with the addition of Edgar the savant as King and Maxwell clerk\analyst.
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I agree - I think Hurst is going to make the "Edgar" character a winner!
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Isn't "TNT knows drama" their tagline or whatever? I know you didn't mean to, but I still think it's funny!
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I was very entertained by this show's premiere. I think it has the potential to be better than Rizzoli & Isles, which I like a lot. The banter between King and Maxwell was fun to listen to. I already like their chemistry together. I also liked the case this week; reminded me of Person of Interest, which is a VERY good thing in my book. For the most part, TNT does put out good shows, so I'm definitely gonna stick with this show.
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It isn't bad by any means. It isn't Southland. I would put it somewhere between Castle which is good and Rizzoli and Isles which isn't.
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What was up with Jon Tenney's gut? There one scene, gone the next. Perhaps the girdle pooped out and they didn't have time for reshoots. As for Rebecca: still ridiculously hot.
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I'd already seen enough tepid, run-of-the-mill Ampersand Shows on TNT to know in advance that this would be yet another, so I didn't even bother to sample the pilot. Surprise, surprise, this review confirmed everything I expected it would[n't] be. I like procedurals, cop-ish shows and sexual tension as much as the next viewer, but TNT somehow always finds a way to make all of those elements even less interesting than any other network's similar fare.

Sigh, I miss the stellar Southland even more than ever now.
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I gave it a look purely because Ryan Hurst was in it and I missed him as Opie and wanted to see how good he'd be in this. However, the show was pretty good; certainly held my interest for the whole time and Ryan Hurst was excellent as Edgar Roy. This actor is on the rise I'm pretty sure - Kurt Sutter sure dropped the ball ditching him from SoA.

I'm certainly going to carry on watching this show and see how it develops; overall I think it was pretty good. Kind of reminded me of an old 80's show called Dempsey and Makepeace.
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I was actually disappointed with King and Maxwell, a few of the scenes were quite cheesy and there is not as much chemistry between the leads as there is in other TNT shows (Franklin&Bash, Leverage and Longmire all do this better)
The opening scene seemed off to me - there was no real excitement in it for some reason (maybe the lack of police cars chasing a run away bus through traffic distracted me, but i got to listen to The Heavy, which was nice)
The interview with Edgar seemed to be set in a basement or abandoned factory - reminding me of a lot of 80's low budget action flicks
One of the parts i did enjoy, was the dialog while they were spying on the limo
The script was bland, the incidental/background music was all over the place and didnt actually enhance any scene
Ryan Hurst (OPIE!!!) is wasted as Edgar, and the character is actually poorly written, but he manages to bring a glimmer of charm to it
I will check out the next episode, but if its more of the same then i am done.
As someone who likes a certain amount of procedural s, i was interested in the concept of this show, but they may have tried to put too much into the pilot plotwise.
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Like you, Cory, I didn't know this one was coming but it intrigued me enough to take a looksee. The most important thing you said in your review I think was, "King & Maxwell is just fine, and it's okay for TV shows to be just fine." As TV critics you guys cater to all manner of TV fans, and I'm proud to say I'm one of those who's in it for the long haul. My viewing habits allow for the inevitable, which is great shows get cancelled and there's pretty much nothing we can do about it. I have much on my plate and I will never go hungry. I don't marathon or employ any gluttony in my TV watching. I like stuff that some say isn't good. We watch for all manner of reasons, and sometimes--as in the case of Hart of Dixie--we just like the people we are watching, and feel no pressure to defend our choices. My latest heartbreak is Bunheads, which most likely won't be back--but I'll get over it because TV also gives along with the takething away. I had no idea Orphan Black was coming, and then it was just there. Many talked me into Banshee and Rectify and now I have those as well. Being a triple black belt Ninja also has it's advantages and it serves me well. I don't do Got or Breaking Bad, but I can if I want to. I really don't care if you decide to review Banshee in the future, but it's always fun to play on here. Banshee doesn't need reviewing-- we will watch eagerly anyway. Good review Cory and if you're not back with this next week, it's fine. "King & Maxwell is just fine, and it's okay for TV shows to be just fine..."
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I must admit that I did not eagerly await this new TNt fare. I have hade quite the crush on Jon Tenney during his run on The Closer, but I felt it was too soon to see him with a blond other than Brenda Leigh. However, I enjoyed the pilot. There was a small amount of predictability, but the show was still quite enjoyable. Also, without procedurals, my DVR would be obsolete.
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I saw it and I liked it but I wont see it next week, it didn't bring anything new and I did not like How King & Maxwell fit together:-(
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I had been boycotting TNT due to their treatment of Leverage. However, out of respect for Christian Kane and Chris Downey I will give King & Maxwell a chance. I will see how things go, Episode 6 will be the deciding factor.
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I don't think Leverage was treated badly. I'm pretty sure Tim Hutton just wanted to go out through the front door rather than the back. It was a wonderful show, wasn't it? That cast can never be duplicated as the same goes for Human Target...
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Interesting article : made me think about what procedurals I like, why and how I watch them. Usually, I watch them when I'm doing something else.
If I get bored during the summer break, I'll watch all the shows I don't have time to watch during the year.
All this to say, I probably won't watch this show; I don't have any essay to grade for the rest of the year ; maybe during ironing though ...
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I totally liked this new show for all the reasons Cory spells out above. I think I liked it better than she did, however. I admit to being a big fan of Jon Tenney and Baldacci novels as well. The chemistry between Tenny and Romijn was surprisingly good for a pilot and it struck the right tone. Loved Hurst and glad he's a regular. Kudos to Shane Brennan for making all 3 of his leads a little rough around the edges - but definitely likeable. (Never thought I would say that of an accused serial killer / autistic genius as played by Hurst). Kudos to direction/production for the feature film feel to this show - a class act! (See Romijn sculling in the early morning). The very beginning cracked me up as we find Maxwell in a car chase with a tour bus - being driven by a deranged beaver. I'll be looking for S1/E2 for sure!
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I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed TNT's obsession with Duo Procedurals. If the Dynamic is strong enough to carry this show, fair enough. Xena: Warrior Princess, as well as a slew of other series, have been carried by two-person dynamics. But at this point TNT's procedurals all feel so bland and safe to the point where I'll find myself shouting at the TV in places where they could've given weight to the story or made it more interesting.

*I'm looking at you Rizzoli & Isles*
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I like Rizzoli and Isles very much because of Sasha Alexander. I gave up on NCIS a long time ago because I can't stand Gibbs. I do however like Mark Harmon very much...
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It frustrates me because it has potential, but it makes such safe storytelling choices where it could have real weight. Add to that, the supporting characters are such dead weight to the story that trying to develop them just feels like a waste of time when there's a real fire to the dynamic between Rizzoli and Isles. I likewise am not fond of NCIS.
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Actually the crime of the week isn't as much fun as the family stuff IMO. I like these people...
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I'm generally not fond of it; It could be better. I'm aware it has a following. It's way too safe, though.
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Oh, Isles two moms, Rizzoli's deadbeat daddy, Isles gangster pop. All that stuff...
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Go into further detail about your preference for the "family stuff"
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Despite the crush I had on Rebecca Romijn for a while and my fondness for private detective fiction, I was planning on passing on this. The main reason being my lack of interest in TNT shows (except for Leverage). So I read your review to get a better sense of whether I should even bother giving it a try... and uhhhhh... I think you convinced me to at least try the pilot out, even though the end of the episode sounds stupid.
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LEVERAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *sniffles* I am still pissed about that. Pissed, I tell you. It wasn't horrible. It was watchable. If you don't take it seriously it was actually kinda fun. Also, if you need more incentive, Christian Kane is supposed to be in an episode. I don't know when, but he's supposed to play a cop or something, so there's that.
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I guess I felt the same way about Leverage as you did. It was never a favorite of mine as it was sometimes too overly-dramatic and/or sappy, but the characters and many of the cons/jobs were pretty fun.
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