CBS and NBC introduce a trio of new series Thursday, with “Training Day” joining the long list of movies being transformed into TV shows. CBS also uses its heavyweight “The Big Bang Theory” to launch the comedy “Superior Donuts,” which doesn’t live up to that adjective, while NBC’s “Powerless” weakly executes an interesting concept.
Adapted from the movie that starred Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, “Training Day” flips the racial mix, with Bill Paxton as the grizzled, corner-cutting rogue cop and Justin Cornwell as his young, by-the-book partner.
“I’m the test that nobody passes,” Paxton’s Det. Frank Rourke tells his new charge, Cornwell’s Kyle Craig. Later, he serves notice about his intent to kill suspects they’re pursuing, saying, “I’m gonna make damn sure they never see the inside of a courtroom.”
With Paxton’s tough talk and shoot-first attitude, the series is at least as much “Dirty Harry” as “Training Day,” especially given how Harry went through partners. Yet it pretty quickly settles into a by-the-numbers cop procedural, with a serialized thread running through the show involving Kyle’s late father, a detective with whom Frank had worked.
The question with any movie turned into a series is whether the concept has the legs to last on an episodic basis. Evaluating the first few patrols, that’s the key test that “Training Day” doesn’t pass.
“Superior Donuts,” meanwhile, assembles a lot of good talent, only to serve them up in a stale, warmed-over vehicle.
Judd Hirsch taxis his way back to sitcoms as Arthur, the proprietor of the donut shop, grousing about his increasingly gentrified Chicago neighborhood. Needing a makeover, he hires Franco (Jermaine Fowler), a young African-American guy with whom he naturally clashes, even if the two really need each other.
Katey Sagal pops in periodically as a cop who frequents the shop, one of several supporting characters who will apparently spend an inordinate amount of time there. But how much mileage can you really get out of the fact Arthur is an old curmudgeon who refuses to get Wi-Fi and blows his stack when someone dares to order a cronut, touting the merits of old-fashioned pastry.
“Superior Donuts” is pretty old fashioned too. Yet however good Arthur’s donuts are, as sitcoms go, this product is pretty inferior.
Finally, there’s “Powerless,” a fun idea – courtesy of DC Comics – indifferently produced.
Vanessa Hudgens stars as Emily, a new arrival in Charm City, where superhero fights are so common that fellow commuters seem utterly blasé about the sight of one.
Emily is taking a job with Wayne Security, a firm run by Bruce Wayne’s dunderheaded cousin Van (Alan Tudyk), who yearns for Batman’s alter ego to summon him to Gotham.
So far, so good. But the writers make it all too broad and jokey, starting with the nondescript team of workers (among them “Community’s” Danny Pudi) that Emily inherits, who fear losing their jobs if they don’t create a killer anti-super-villain app soon.
There are several clever touches, like having Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies) play Emily’s dad, and together with the premise they’re enough to merit giving the show another chance.
Based on the premiere, though, what could be an amusing look at the more grounded side of life among superheroes is a mere mortal when it comes to charm.
“Superior Donuts” and “Training Day” premiere February 2 at 8:30 and 10 p.m., respectively, on CBS. “Powerless” premieres at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.