Location, Location, Location Works for Cop Drama

Media Reviews for Media People: 'K-Ville'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- With a crop of shows making their debuts on cable and the fall season upon us, Ad Age TV Editor Brian Steinberg casts a critical eye on some of TV's new and continuing series to help marketers determine which may prove to be the best showcases for their ads and products. On Monday, Fox debuts its police drama "K-Ville," set and filmed in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser head the cast of Fox's 'K-Ville.'
Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser head the cast of Fox's 'K-Ville.' Credit: Robert Sebree/FOX

"K-Ville"

Where/When you'll see it: Fox, Mondays at 9 p.m.

What you'll see: If "K-Ville" were a movie, this is what the announcer would say during the promotional trailer: "One has lost everything. The other has nothing left to lose."

That's essentially the premise of this cops-and-action drama, which takes the "mismatched partners" premise that worked so well in "Miami Vice" and drops it smack dab in a still-recovering-from-Hurricane-Katrina New Orleans. Anthony Anderson plays Marlin Boulet, a bourbon-swilling, gumbo-eating cop who refuses to abandon the Big Easy, even though policing it seems entirely hopeless and he is estranged from his family and his former partner. His new partner is Trevor Cobb (played with deadpan aplomb by Cole Hauser), a cop with a dicey past who is eager to redeem his sins.

This is the sort of stuff you can get anywhere on the dial. What makes "K-Ville" intriguing is its setting. It takes chutzpah to set a network cop drama in New Orleans, and tackle all the issues from which that city suffers. The first episode is laced with Cajun spice, dropping Crescent City references regularly, with everything from brass-band music to New Orleans' Ninth Ward getting due mention. But New Orleans remains a political hot potato and some of the stories in this program will no doubt be difficult to stomach.

Mr. Anderson has been a compelling figure in programs like "The Shield," but he'll have to be careful not to overdo it here; his character seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, as if he is personally responsible for everything that has happened in New Orleans and only he can set things right. Mr. Hauser will have to step up and make his presence known down the road so the show has an equal mix of angst, action and humor.

The plots may be a little fantastic, but the action sequences are top-notch. During car-chases, the cameras flash rapid-fire on specific images -- a determined face, the speedometer, a hurtling car -- in a way that almost makes the show look like a video version of a comic book. "K-Ville" has lots of potential, but it remains to be seen if the writers can keep it punchy without being preachy, and thoughtful without becoming polarizing.

What's at stake: Fox has begun to build a decent Monday night, thanks to "Prison Break," which will lead in to "K-Ville." The network needs a few more fall hits, when it has in the past been hurt by airing baseball championships. Its success with "House" has helped, but Fox sure could use more momentum in the autumn months, when most other networks gain traction, rather than waiting until January -- when its double-whammy of "American Idol" and "24" really start making a stand.

Who's on board: Fox doesn't comment about sponsors in advance of a show's premiere, but the network's top advertisers include movie studios, telecom players such as AT&T and Verizon, soda giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, and fast-food player Yum Brands. These are marketers whose flashy fare plays well in edgy, action-driven content.

Your ad here?: Conservative marketers might put their commercials in more touchy-feely fare, but advertisers who want young men -- see above for examples -- would seem to fit in perfectly here. Product placement might be tough, given the milieu, but there are certainly opportunities. Our suggestion: New Orleans is rebuilding; people in its communities are coming together to help each other. Seems to us that a home-improvement retailer such as Home Depot could smartly insert its stores, products or services into scenes where people are trying to fix their homes and neighborhoods without much risk of being accused of taking advantage of a tough situation.

Media buyers' verdict: "K-Ville" better shoot 'em up -- and fast. "It's in a real challenging time period, Monday at 9 p.m. opposite 'Heroes' on NBC and the CBS comedy juggernaut. That's going to be tough," said Steve Kalb, senior VP-director of broadcast media at Interpublic Group's Mullen.

"It's a very formula-type policy drama, other than the fact it's set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I don't think that there's anything even a little different than what's been on before with regards to police drama," said Brad Adgate, senior VP-corporate research director, Horizon Media.
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