3 out of 5
Created by: Tassie Cameron and Sherry White
covers season 1
I love the double entendre of the title. I love the pedigree of the actors here, and how they’re applied: giving Meredith MacNeill an outlet to mix her fantastic physical comedy chops with some dramatic opportunities; using Adrienne C. Moore as the straight-woman to play off of MacNeil’s energy; giving Percy Hynes White a more natural script than he often got on The Gifted; letting Tara Strong be one of the Big Bads of the season; featuring Katie Douglas in anything. And I really appreciate how the show successfully navigates all of its main cast – the various Canadian detectives in different departments; our two leads’ friends / boyfriends / family – into logical and organic positions throughout the 10-episode season, which also successfully diverts a seemingly episodic procedural into a season long arc.
…And yet, Pretty Hard Cases never quite makes it past the “average” barrier, the great chemistry of cop odd couple Sam and Kelly (MacNeill and Moore) well balanced throughout – they are a constant joy to watch – but surrounded by a drug running storyline that’s never quite silly or serious enough. That push and pull is kind of what keeps the show firmly in the middle, unwilling to go too hard down any particular topical or tonal road. On the one hand, I guess I can appreciate that the show is just comfortable with its primarily female cast, and doesn’t push any agenda with that, but along this middling line, it still flirts with bringing up sexism, but just as an offhand joke here and there; similarly with the impact of its crimes: nothing much feels too important in the show’s world, which is then an odd blend for its drawn out, moderately twisty storyline.
The chemistry is definitely what keeps it afloat though, in addition to the other aforementioned cast additions: both leads are allowed to play to their particular “shticks” (quirky and deadpan), and they never lose that, but the antagonistic friendship that’s shown to develop feels natural, and they way the two start to show interest in each another’s wellbeing is charming.
I’m totally down for pleasant and comfortable TV, so I will for sure continue watching Pretty Hard Cases, should it continue, but with all the on-screen talent and some definitely apparent smarts in the writing room, it would also be interesting to see the show try to sharpen up its edges a bit more.