News Column

Dave on Demand: NBC's 'Crossing Lines' part of new TV production trend

July 6, 2013

YellowBrix

July 06--No one believes me when I say that when it comes to television, I can take it or leave it. So just to prove a point, when I'm on vacation, as I was recently, I don't watch at all. And after the first couple of days, when the migraines and nervous tics subside, I do just fine, thank you very much.

This is by way of explaining how Crossing Lines, the intriguing NBC summer series (Sunday, 10 p.m.) that debuted a couple of weeks ago, slipped by me. It stars William Fichtner (The Lone Ranger) as a brilliant but damaged former N.Y.P.D. detective enlisted to serve in an elite international unit investigating serial crimes that jump borders.

His fellow bloodhounds are played by Marc Lavoine, Gabriella Pession, Tom Wlaschiha, Moon Dailly, and Richard Flood. Haven't heard of them? That's because they are respectively French, Italian, German, French, and Irish. (Pession was born in Florida but moved to Italy when she was 6. Dailly's father is American, but she grew up overseas.)

The series, undeservedly getting thumped in the ratings so far, is a polished procedural with a sophisticated atmosphere. But it's the show's funding that I applaud.

For decades, American producers have been pilfering TV hits from other countries and passing them off as their own, whether it's reality shows (Wife Swap, Undercover Boss), drama (Homeland, House of Cards), or even comedy (All in the Family, Ugly Betty), a genre that generally resists translation.

But Crossing Lines, like ABC's Missing with Ashley Judd, represents a new and growing trend: get production companies in other countries to foot the bill for our programming.

Here's a quick tip for spotting such international coproductions: The actors are foreign, but shockingly make no effort to affect an American accent (see HBO's Rome, Da Vinci's Demons on Starz).

Doesn't matter if the ratings are disappointing -- it's already paid for. American ingenuity at its most cunning.

Tough cookies. While we're on the topic of underlooked summer series, Motive and Rookie Blue on ABC and King on Reelz have a couple of things in common: Each is built around a tough, self-reliant, big-city female cop. And all three are Canadian exports.

All right, if you want to be picky, Rookie Blue doesn't fit that format precisely in that it's a more traditional (read: soapier) ensemble drama. I'm just a huge fan of the show's sleek star, Missy Peregrym.

But Motive's Kristin Lehman and King's Amy Price-Francis turn in compelling performances as driven, take-charge investigators with complicated personal lives.

Throw in Mireille Enos in The Killing and you'd have to say it's actresses who are making the TV offseason worth watching. BTW, The Killing may ostensibly be set in Seattle, but it's filmed in Vancouver.

When are we going to start defending that border?

The new girl. Miami's Ernesto Arguello may have found his soul mate on Ready for Love, but it wasn't the girl he picked on the show.

On July 4, Eva Longoria confirmed that she has a thing going on with Arguello, tweeting to her 6 million followers: "Happy to share NOW that it's true! Couldn't be happier."

You may recall that Arguello, 34, was recently a contestant on Ready for Love, an NBC show in which 36 lovelies competed for the exclusive attentions of "three of America's most eligible" bachelors. The thing is, Longoria both produced Ready for Love and selected the three objects of desire.

Wait. If we recall, at the end of the season (which you had to watch online on Hulu because NBC canceled this dating debacle after three episodes), Arguello chose former Miss USA Shandi Finnessey as his true love.

You mean the lovebirds on these matchmaker reality shows don't live happily ever after? What is there left to believe in?

Contact David Hiltbrand at dhiltbrand@phillynews.com; follow him at www.inquirer.com/daveondemor on Twitter @daveondemand_TV.

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