26 February 2003 | Victor Field
It doesn't deliver an hour's worth of story, but it does deliver.
The last time DreamWorks and NBC got together for a series imported by Channel 5 (pre-Five), the result was "The Others," which was appropriately enough co-produced by Delusional Films. Appropriately, that is, because delusional is precisely what the makers were if they thought that sub-"Poltergeist: The Legacy" sleep-inducer had what it took to become a hit. (It was cancelled after about 13 episodes by NBC and swiftly demoted to a late-night slot in the UK.)
"Boomtown," though not the most blistering series to arrive in years, is much, much better. The hook is that each episode follows one story through seven participants; an assistant DA (Neal McDonough), a reporter (the gorgeous Nina Garbiras), two uniformed cops (Gary Basaraba and Jason Gedrick), two plainclothes cops (top-billed Donnie Wahlberg and Mykelti Williamson) and a paramedic (Lana Parilla) - these last few are what seem to have led some to compare it unfavourably to "Third Watch," and this show does have some flaws; the stories of each episode would in fact be a lot shorter if they didn't keep repeating scenes in order to have them from another point of view.
But when the show does work, it's enormously effective; and so far, it hits more often than it misses, with each of the core having more than one strong moment; the continuing plot about Wahlberg's severely depressed wife is especially noteworthy, and the acting and scripting are strong enough to make it worth the time. "Boomtown" may not be as effective as Graham Yost's earlier "Speed," but he also scripted "Broken Arrow" and co-wrote "Mission To Mars." This is far better than either.
I doubt this'll last long, but I'll enjoy it while I can.