‘Common Law’ — Hot Cops, Lukewarm Show?

Homicide detectives who find themselves in couples therapy?  It’s a descent premise, but is it believable? And can it remain endearing for more than a few episodes? Well, USA Network’s newest drama, Common Law, which premiered last Friday night, leaves me undecided.

Travis, played by Michael Ealy, is a cocky, slutty homicide detective, who was raised in 18 different foster care homes and has a problem putting his ego aside.  Wes, played by Warren Kole, is his cocky, ex-lawyer partner who likes to play by the rules.  We meet them in their first couples therapy group session with Dr. Ryan, played by Sonya Walger (aka Penny from Lost!).  The two bicker like any television crime-fighting duo would, only the animosity is right on the surface.  The two are avoiding suspension after Wes pulled his gun out when Travis refused to apologize for something by complying with their boss, Captain Sutton (Jack McGee) and seeing a therapist.  Here’s my question: Why are they trying to save the partnership?  Though Captain Sutton declares them his best detectives, it doesn’t feel like enough to keep them together when they could just separate the team and go on in peace.

Going forward, I hope we see more of Wes and Travis’ back-story, especially what their partnership was like at the beginning.  With any luck these story lines will be explored in the couples therapy scenes, which are some of the best of the show.  Not only do Michael Ealy and Warren Kole have great chemistry, but they also have really fun interactions with the rest of the therapy group, not to mention the therapist.

I definitely think the show has potential, and I’m especially curious to know Wes better.  In the pilot, it is revealed that the newly divorced detective (who still has some kind of attachment to his ex) left his law career after putting an innocent man in jail.  Wes’ commitment to justice, and the moral dilemmas that are sure to come out of that commitment, are sure to make for excellent television.  The one major flaw in the show is that there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to keep these two together on the job.  An unlikely partnership is always fun to watch on TV (see Bones, Castle, etc), but a self destructive one isn’t so charming.

Right now, the pilot is available on Hulu and USA Network’s website and the next new episode will air Friday at 10pm on USA.

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