Eddie Sutton (Russell Hornsby) is an idealistic police officer, dreaming of making a real difference. His family (nurse wife and three kids) is currently living in a too-small apartment. The chance to kill two birds with one stone comes up with a program that encourages officers to buy homes in depressed neighbourhoods, and so Eddie moves his family into a spacious former crack house in the titular LA district. Things, as one might expect, are not easy. Eddie discovers (to his unaccountable surprise) that his new neighbours are suspicious of the police. His son is bullied in school. The girls have their own problems fitting in. And crime keeps rearing its ugly head. But as the series progresses, Eddie and his family make of their new house, and its neighbourhood, a real home.
Back in 2007, Variety reviewed this series, and compared it unfavorably to The Wire. Given that show’s status as one of the best series EVER to grace American television, just about anything would look back in comparison. But Lincoln Heights doesn’t do itself any favours by yoking together (with violence) gritty urban drama and Hallmark-style sentimentality. The latter makes the former hollow, while the former shows up the latter for the lie that it is. The show has stars in its eyes, and its heart may perhaps be in the right place, but that does, unfortunately, make it good, despite the best efforts of its able cast. The characters remain familiar mainstream TV types, and so when Eddie warns that their new neighbourhood “isn’t Disneyland,” he is, in fact, wrong. He simply moves his family from one area of the amusement park to the other, from Cosbyland to Gangstaland, and there is no more authenticity than at Disneyland. I won’t even get started on the action scenes, which feature the most gratuitous use of splitscreen this side of CSI: Miami.
The inauthentic nature of the script is all the more disappointing given how great the show looks, irritating stylistic flourishes aside. The colours are very rich with equally rich, strong contrasts. There is a bit of grain visible, but in some respects this enhances, rather than detracts, from the show’s look, giving the pretty pictures a touch of grit. The image is as sharp as the LA sun is hot, and one can almost feel the heat radiating from the concrete.
The sound is 2.0, which is a little bit surprising for something so recent, even if it is coming to us from TV. But said 2.0 certainly earns its keep, creating a very convincing atmosphere and sense of place, with traffic and other urban background noise behaving like, well, authentic background noise. There is excellent front-rear separation of the sound effects. The dialogue is always clear and doesn’t distort.
None beyond a few ads and a booklet introducing viewers to the show.
The show is slickly put together, and professionally acted, so I’m sure it has a following. That following might be disappointed by the lack of features, however.