On paper, the new drama King & Maxwell is very much in keeping with other TNT dramas.
Like Rizzoli & Isles or Franklin & Bash, it focuses on two people who work together but are different in personality. Like those shows and Perception, it has people whose eccentricities should make them more interesting. Like all of those shows and Major Crimes, it aims to be adventurous and mystery-solving. And one of its co-stars is Jon Tenney, who was part of the ensemble on The Closer and its sequel, Major Crimes as Fritz, the FBI-agent husband of Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson. In fact, Major Crimes’ second-season premiere at 9 p.m. Monday leads into the series premiere of King & Maxwell at 10.
Unfortunately, while you might have read the David Baldacci books on which King & Maxwell is based, TV shows still don’t take place on paper. And what you will see on-screen in King & Maxwell is a disappointment. I watched it twice — not many days apart — because it had been so forgettable on first viewing that I needed a memory refresher before writing about it.
It still wasn’t all that memorable.
Tenney plays Sean King, the partner in a private-investigation business with Michelle Maxwell (Rebecca Romijn). Both used to be Secret Service agents; each left under a cloud. King’s was an especially dark one; his post-service life has included getting sober — and reinventing himself not only as a private eye but by picking up a law degree, which comes in handy in some cases.
Still to some folks, King and Maxwell are little more than what one foil calls “a couple of washed-up bullet-catchers who got retired because you screwed up.” The potential for screwing up remains considerable, since neither is overly concerned with propriety or the law. As if we have never seen a crime-fighting team do that before. So we’re supposed to be content with the contrasting characters. Maxwell is more athletic than King, and sloppier. King is gloomier than Maxwell. If there’s a big car chase of a suspect, as at the beginning of the series premiere, Maxwell will engage in the fender-bashing, while King will look for an easier way to deal with it.
The series also includes Michael O’Keefe and Chris Butler as FBI agents who cross paths, sometimes unpleasantly, with King and Maxwell. They are good actors. Tenney and Romijn aren’t bad either. But this all feels too familiar.