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Submitted by on July 13, 2010 – 1:56 am 19 Comments

Courtesy TNT

It’s hard for me to review something I neither love nor hate, which is how I feel about the pilot for this new TNT series (Mondays, 10 p.m.) starring Angie Harmon as tough-talking homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander as fashion-conscious medical examiner Maura Isles. I always welcome the chance to watch Harmon but the show, after a tense opening, turned out to be average, offering no fresh take on the cop drama. It might not be fair to ask for something original since cop dramas saturate the tube and have done so since TV went color, but all you have to do is look at its lead-in, The Closer, to see how that features a unique character in Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson.

The premiere introduces us to Rizzoli’s family and colleagues and we learn that a murderer who once almost killed her is back, hell bent on finishing what he started with Rizzoli. Rizzoli says she’s not scared, won’t be intimidated into staying at Mom’s house, “I’m a homicide detective!” etc., until of course she gets into a bad situation with her nemesis. Do I have to tell you who prevails during the confrontation?

I haven’t read Tess Gerritsen’s novels on which the show is based but think Harmon is a great choice for the Boston detective, doing her tomboy spitfire thing, similar to what she did on ABC’s short-lived, underrated Women’s Murder Club (another series based on popular novels). I’ve always liked how she never plays dumb, pretty girls despite being gorgeous. Alexander doesn’t have much to do yet; she mostly spouts some medical info and looks fabulous in expensive designer clothes and perfectly highlighted hair. I do not understand why both women drool over Billy Burke (Bella’s dad in the Twilight movies) as an FBI agent because he just ain’t hot. Burke is an impressive actor but his character is dull, gloomy and generates zero sparks with either Rizzoli or Isles. Lorraine Bracco is annoying as Rizzoli’s mother but I guess if my daughter were a cop being hunted by a serial killer, I’d worry and fuss over her safety, too.

I might tune in again next week strictly because of Harmon. Or I may just pick up the books and see her in my head.

Have you read the novels and seen the show? What did you think?

Nerd verdict: Rizzoli & Isles not a total bust, elevated by attractive leads

Buy Ice Cold: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel from Amazon
Buy from Barnes & Noble
Buy from Powell’s Books



  • Yeti9000 says:

    Urgh…this show looks sooooo boring. I haven’t watched it and after reading your review, probably never will. But worst of all is the title: RIZZOLI & ISLES?? Seriously? That’s not a TV show title, that’s a freaking dinner special at The Olive Garden! Urgh…thanks, but, I’ll stick to the never-ending pasta bowl for now. 🙂

  • le0pard13 says:

    CRAP! We missed the season 6 opener of The Closer last night!!! And I blame TNT for saturating its ads for this new show (and nothing about Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Johnson coming back). Sorry, but maybe we’ll watch R & I after we watch our fav TNT series… signing off now to find the replay of that premiere. Thanks, PCN.

  • You lasted longer than I did. I managed about two minutes, then turned the TV off.

  • Jenn says:

    I loved it, but I love Tess Gerritsen’s books. I think this is the perfect vehicle for Harmon after the short-lived and mismanaged WMC.

    They’re going to have to balance the humor with the thriller, though. Last night’s case was a little too heavy for it? Gerritsen is witty and I hope they let that shine through in upcoming episodes.

  • My first thought was “Is this a Readers Digest Condensed Cast version of Women’s Murder Club?” If it makes it onto our screens here, I’ll tune in and give it a go. But based on your review and the comments so far, I’ll be hoping they allow for a bigger helping of wit to help it along.

  • Jen Forbus says:

    I obviously didn’t see the show last night, but I’d like to watch it. I’m hoping to find it online or on DVD eventually. I just finished reading my first Rizzoli & Isles book, which happens to be the most recent, ICE COLD, and it was fabulous. In the past I’ve not been truly overwhelmed by Angie Harmon, but I do really like Sasha Alexander and based on reading ICE COLD, I think they did an excellent job of casting this.

    As far as Gerritsen’s wit goes, though, she’s not involved in the writing, so that probably won’t come through much. It’ll depend more on the wit of the show writers, I would think.

    I’ll definitely give it a shot. I’m much more a crime drama fan than comedy these days. I haven’t found a comedy I like (that’s lasted) since probably the Cosby Show. Except, well, I really like Pscyh. It’s crime comedy, I guess. Now I’m babbling. I’m done.

  • JD Rhoades says:

    Full disclosure: Tess is a friend of mine, and we share a blog (with a bunch of other people). But I loved her books before I met her, and I still do. Really creepy bad guys, great pacing. I particularly liked THE MEPHISTO CLUB and THE BONE GARDEN.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Hi JD, and welcome.

      I visit Murderati occasionally and have seen you there. Her books are good and creepy (I loved GRAVITY) but I know she doesn’t have any control over the show. What did you think of it?

  • I’m a big fan of Tess Gerritsen’s books and enjoyed hearing her speak at the local independent bookstore in Atlantic Beach, Florida. When she first mentioned that rumor was out there that they would make a show about the characters in her books, we in the audience were thrilled to hear it, particularly since it’s easy to enjoy these characters. Tess Gerritsen is also very witty and very smart. I enjoy her novels, and am very impressed with her background (she’s a doctor). I have been watching the TV show as well, and although I really dig the two chosen for the roles, it really lacks the grittiness that the books offered, and which I really enjoy from the books — to be honest, the show almost seems a little campy, as if the network executives wanted to get more girly about the show. The books can be very dark and some scenes can be tough to read, and you miss that on the show. I’m trying not to be annoyed by that part, but in watching the shows, I’m feeling that annoyance creep on me, and I’m not liking it one bit.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Hi Natalie, and welcome to my site! Thanks for giving us a comparison of the books vs. series. I read somewhere that Isles is Goth-looking in the novels but Sasha Alexander certainly isn’t. I like more grit in my cop dramas, too, and don’t think this show is there yet.

      • I also meant to say that I stopped by your site from Picky Girl’s blog — I love your site!

        Yes, Isles actually has a blunt bob cut with sharp bangs — when Gerritsen first described her, I thought of Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction. Definitely NOT the pretty and perky brainiac cheerleader they selected for the role — she’s really good for how they rewrote the character to be, but she’s not Gerritsen’s Isles as far as I can see, and was quite a shock when I saw the premiere for the show!

        • Pop Culture Nerd says:

          Oh, thanks for saying that about my site! Picky Girl‘s got a great blog. Her reviews are so erudite.

          Who did you picture as Rizzoli from the book descriptions?

          • Yes, your site is definitely going on my blog roll! And yes, Picky Girl’s posts are dang near brilliant, I love her perspectives!

            My top 2 choices for someone to play Isles in my head would either be Carrie Anne Moss (1st) or Famke Jannsen. They have that tall and very stylish Gothic look with the dark hair — and can really carry the nickname that is whispered about her when people can’t think she can hear them. They would be perfect as the “Queen of the Dead.”

  • oddballlucy says:

    I’m a big fan of the books, and have to say I’m not at all convinced by the cast. I’ve got a lot of time for Harmon – She’s a great actress and can really do the tough talking cop thing, but my main problem is that she looks totally wrong for me. Just too pretty, to be frank! But a good enough actress that I can get past that. Sasha Alexander though… totally wrong in every way for Maura Isles – not even her fault, since they seem to have ignored all the great things about the character when writing her. I would’ve thought that Isle’s actual appearance would totally work on screen as a real attention grabber, and am puzzled at the direction they appear to have taken. And I find the idea of Rizzoli and Isles competing over Gabriel Dean way to freaky. Frankly the whole thing feels a little bit dumbed down, and all in all I think I’ll stick with the books…

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