"Crash," based upon the Oscar-winning movie, won't prompt much rubbernecking.
A drama that follows disparate storylines that, presumably, will begin to converge as the season continues, this character-driven series might grab viewers if they're not put off by the show's mostly unsavory characters.
Dennis Hopper is the most familiar face, starring as Ben Cendars, a ranting record producer who's first glimpsed sitting in the back of a limousine, looking toward his crotch and lecturing his penis with a wordy soliloquy. The limo's female driver flees in disgust.
- When: 10 p.m. Friday, Starz
Cendar's hires Anthony (Jocko Sims) to be his new driver. In the first two hour-long episodes, airing Friday at 10 and 11 p.m., Anthony is the most likeable character among the many Los Angeles denizens, who also include: Axel (Nick E. Tarabay), a cop who's sleeping with another cop; Bebe (Arlene Tur), whose partner, Kenny (Ross McCall), contemplates cheating on his wife with a woman he crashes his car into.
Former gang member Eddie Choi (Brian Tee) is trying to improve his lot in life by working as an EMT but finds himself drawn back into a more complicated, dangerous existence.
And in Brentwood, Christine (Clare Carey) considers renovations to her McMansion that she can't really afford due to the foundering business interests of her husband (D.B. Sweeney). As viewers might guess, there's not a lot of humor in this show whose first two episodes are available to non-Starz subscribers on demand or online at sites such as IMDB.com and Fancast.com.
"Crash" worked well as a movie because of its unconventional casting (Matt Dillon as a racist cop!) and the story structure. Multiple character stories converged over the course of a 112-minute movie. The TV show, populated largely by unknown actors, is another matter. The stories are largely unconnected as the series begins and it will require viewer patience for those threads to entwine.
But will viewers want to spend time with these characters? They're a largely unlikable lot of crooked cops, adulterers and Hopper's long-winded, nutso music mogul. It's one thing to spend a movie with these characters, but it's quite another to tune in for 13 weeks.
After two episodes, there may be enough character drama to warrant further viewing by fans of past series populated by morally ambiguous characters (think: "The Shield"). But is "Crash" intriguing enough to convince viewers who don't currently subscribe to Starz to add the premium channel? Interested viewers may be inclined to wait for the inevitable DVD release.