Review: A Killer Cast, Sex, and Murder Don’t Save ‘Wicked City’

Well, you can say one thing about ABC’s Wicked City. It certainly earned its 10 p.m. time slot.

In the pilot episode, there are three—count ‘em—three simulated acts of fellatio, which has to be a record for network television (it’s interesting to note that when it’s woman on man, it gets a 10 p.m. slot on a major network, but when it’s a man on woman, it gets an NC-17 rating).

Wicked City follows Kent (Ed Westwick), a murderous Son of Sam-esque character who dedicates a radio request to his female victim before he kills her. Usually, he takes the woman to some make-out point and she is served a death blow—well, after Kent receives his own blow.

Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto) and Paco Contreras (Gabriel Luna) are two cops on his trail, with the help of wanna-be rock journalist Karen McClaren (Taissa Farmiga) who has a connection to Kent.

This is ABC’s latest venture in the anthology genre, and you can tell it’s taking a page from other popular anthologies, especially one in particular. Wicked City clearly went to the Ryan Murphy Academy of Music with a soundtrack packed with ‘80s jams that would make American Horror Story’s Twisty curl his lips into a maniacal smile. But unlike AHS, Wicked City’s characters aren’t as interesting, and the dialogue isn’t as biting.

Jeremy Sisto is first-rate as usual, but his cop role seems to be recycled from his days on Law & Order. We first see him coming out of a cop car, tugging at his shirt and pants in a tired cliche. In fact, Sisto almost looks like he’s a modern-day character thrown into this decade of excess, especially when he’s aggravated by a rotary phone.

Westwick is perfectly suited to play a serial killer, since quite frankly, Chuck Bass always frightened me on Gossip Girl, and Erika Christensen, who ever seems to play the woman with the resting bitch face, plays against type as a naive, young woman (however, the preview for season 1 seems to indicate there’s more to her than this). But overall, there’s nothing in this story that we haven’t seen before, and the characters all feel flat. 

One noticeable issue in the pilot is that Jack Roth figures out Kent is the killer by the end of the episode, which seems a little fast (isn’t that usually like a mid-way season reveal?). Part of the fun of already knowing who the killer is in a TV series is watching the “good guys” piece it together. Since Roth has already figured out who it is, how long can this show be stretched out?

I’m not sure what Wicked City has in store for the upcoming season. ABC promises that it will be the most provocative drama of the fall. But with other anthology series more creative and evenly paced (see Fargo), Wicked City looks to meet a demise similar to Kent’s starlet victims.

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