“Life After the Fall”

I long advocated a CSI: New Orleans when it was in the idea pile (before they settled on the “been there” setting of New York). My chief reasoning being that the cities, Las Vegas (original C.S.I.) and Miami, were as much a character as any other regular. With K-Ville, we finally have a series set in New Orleans, though it does its level best to squander the opportunity.

Basically your standard interracial buddy cop team, one partner being ex-Special Forces, the other half a nut job, you can’t help but think of something like Lethal Weapon crossed with Miami Vice. But because of the particular sentiment swirling around New Orleans, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, race and politics provide a vital undercurrent to the show … and the people an exploited one.

Anthony Anderson, still prone to screaming half of his lines, plays caring family man cop, Marlin Boulet. His former partner, Charlie Pratt (Derek Webster), burned out on the job during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. As the show opens, he is being assigned a new partner, Trevor Cobb (Cole Hauser). Once we get through the introductions and setting, we’re left with (sub-)standard procedural fare.

“I guess you’re human.” –Trevor

The show is not subtle about the state of New Orleans (and bounces along to an equally subtle soundtrack). Rich racial and spiritual implications abound in the show, but it is the treatment of the disenfranchised that buoys it. Few have ever considered Fox philanthropic, but the show does draw attention to the inconvenient reality of our poor. After tragedies, we want to move on quickly, ignoring the reality of more pressing economic priorities, that played a part in why the tourist areas were back up quick, slapping a shiny, happy face on the situation, while the poor areas were left in disarray, the casualties of trickle down help.

Ayana: Just look around … it’s not the same place and it’s never gonna be.
Marlin: It will be if we fight for it.

In a lot of ways, Hurricane Katrina represented their story taking a different turn, much like the idea of “the Fall”: the sin of Adam and Eve. Moving beyond a literal interpretation of the story, Adam’s sin represented humanity seeking its own way. Our pursuit of what we hope to create out of rebellion (the lie of independence)—attempting to write our own stories—all the while ignoring the grand story of which we’re a part. Relationships are broken and we’re left with conflict: man vs. man; man vs. God; man vs. self; man vs. Creation. One of the things that makes suffering so bad is the sense, the part of us that knows, that things aren’t as they’re supposed to be.

“If you get a second chance then you’re changing your life.” –Trevor

While some have said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment against our embrace of homosexuality and abortion, the hard reality is that if we’re going to be judged, it will be on how we treat, in Jesus’ words, “the least of these”. The poor. The disenfranchised. We are to be witnesses of hope and the first ones to protest this violent order of the way things are; we draw near to the suffering, continue to ask “why?”, and then act in compassion. Our lives become pursuits of putting things back together after bad things happen. In K-Ville we see most of the characters in search of redemption, from the ex-partner to the current one.

“Isn’t this a bit overboard?” –Trevor

K-Ville brings big gun battles set in the Big Easy, so it is a show completely dependent on its context, bringing little new to the table. I keep waiting for Anderson and Hauser to break out somehow rather than play within the ciphers they’ve been given as characters. The show has just enough promise to justify a couple more episodes to see if it will shake out its kinks and grow into the show it wants to be.

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