13 July 2008 | Furious_Fenner
Boomtown, a masterclass in story telling and character driven narrative lasted just over one season, and is perhaps the greatest case of a show destroyed because of it's nature rather than it's quality.
In an ambitious take on the well covered cop/crime show niche, Boomtown aimed to show the story behind a crime from every angle; the beat cops, the detectives, the politicians, the paramedics, the victims, and the suspects. Whereas this could have ended up being a gimmick wasted on an audience not excited by such originality, creator Graham Yost managed to mould a brilliant series of stories that always kept the people at the fore-front of the drama, and never gave in to spectacle. The episodes would veer from comic to dark and disturbing from week to week, going from a corpse fired out of a cannon to betrayed police officers and S&M Murderous Psychopaths. All the time the principal cast, and the creditable guest characters, were given the most attention and the stories usually explored the why of a crime rather than the how and who.
The main characters were a mixed batch, all of whom were memorable in their own right. There was the two detectives, the earnest and dignified Joel Stevens (Donnie Wahlberg, displaying his acting chops in a rare chance to prove that he's far more than Marky Mark's brother) and his partner, the flamboyant and tongue in cheek though on the mark Bobby 'Fearless Smith (Mykelti Williamson). The street officers were the chatterbox veteran, Ray Hechler (Gary Basaraba), and youngish Italian bull Tom Turcotte (Jason Gedrick), who is forever his legendary father's shadow. Then there was the strong willed yet vulnerable paramedic, Teresa Ortiz (Lana Parilla), who cares for nothing but the well being of others, and the usually hell bent and cold reporter, Andrea Little (Nina Garbiras), who has questions she should ask herself. However, the real showpiece of the show was reserved for the fast talking, faster switching Deputy D.A David McNorris (Neal McDonough), a brilliant lawyer who trips himself up on account of his demons. All of these characters were fleshed out well and played to a tee by a fine cast.
The show combined breathless showpieces of action and suspense with the occasional injection of humour, plus managed to incorporate a heart and emotional edge that in so many similar mediums seems tacked on. None of the characters are free from this, with each one suffering from their problems, some facing them better than others. Moments brought gasps and tears in equal measure but their was always enough entertainment abound to ensure the show kept on an even keel. The second series, although beginning shakily, got into stride and the series seemed destined for greatness before the networks pulled the plug. It was a sad end, brought about by a general lack of popularity and a view that the show would not provide the means by which to finance it's ambition. Whether Boomtown would have become a household name over time is not clear, but it's obvious that it's loss was felt by those who appreciated it's sublime nature, and it's cancellation represented a defeat in the battle for quality television.
Ultimately, a brilliant show that died young.