Thursday, September 21, 2006


Lately television seems to have developed a taste for thievery. Last season saw the debut of two short lived series centred on professional thieves, Heist and Thief. It is left to be seen if the similarly themed Smith has what it takes to succeed where those two series failed.

Smith features Ray Liotta as Bobby Stevens, a man with a double life. He is a family man with a wife (the beautiful Virginia Madsen) and two kids, who makes a living selling paper cups. But Bobby is also a master thief who heads a crew that only goes after high priced items (think Rembrandt paintings and the like), a side of his life his family is seemingly ignorant of. This is a show where the lead character might be getting onto his son about doing his homework one minute, only to be shown committing a daring heist the next.

Smith is well cast. Liotta is perfect as Bobby Stevens, believable both when he is in the midst of a robbery or interacting with his wife and kids. Virginia Madsen shines as his wife Hope, speaking more words with the look in her eyes than many actresses can with their voices. Bobby's crew is rounded out by well established actors of film and television, including Simon Baker from Red Planet (who plays Jeff, a cold blooded assassin), Amy Smart from Felicity (who plays con artist and forger Annie), and Franky G from the remake of The Italian Job (who plays Joe, one of the crew's transportation experts).

While I must say that I enjoyed Smith, I must also admit that I am a bit worried for its survival. Smith packed more action and suspense in its debut episode than many shows do in ten episodes. This is a very fast paced series. Worse yet, the show hardly has a linear plot. It can move from flashbacks to the present day with the ease that Quentin Tarentino does in his movies. It is left to be seen whether viewers, accustomed to more casually paced, linear series will take to what is a very intelligent, very complex show. As it is, my concerns may not be unwarranted. Tuesday night Smith was beaten in the Nielsens by both Law and Order: SVU and Boston Legal. Worse yet, its second half hour had lower ratings than its first, meaning viewers actually tuned away. I suppose it is possible for a show to be too intelligent for its own good.

At any rate, I liked Smith quite a bit. If anything else, it is a good change of pace from the police procedurals, reality shows, and talent competitions that have filled the airwaves for the past several years. I only hope that audiences are anxious for something that is daringly different as well.


Anonymous said...

Boy, it's nice to be able to comment here again! The beta blogger switch really did me in!

I didn't see the first episode of Smith though I did like the bits I saw in the advertisements. I think shows like this are pushing the boundries of what's considered good television. It's about time we started seeing more 'cinematic' television shows.


Mercurie said...

I've heard of the problems some bloggers have had with switching to beta Blogger. I think I am going to stick with old fashioned Blogger for now. I have this terrible fear of my template looking bizarre or my comments disappearing entirely...

I really think in some ways the past few years have been a good time for television. True. There has been a surfeit of police procedurals and reality shows of late, but then there have also been shows like 24, Lost, Smith, and so on that are decidedly different.

Anonymous said...

Shows can certainly be too clever for their own good. Just look to Arrested Development.

I haven't seen Smith, but I was intrigued to see Ray Liotta on TV. I loved him in Goodfellas and, more recently, Narc.