Had it managed to become a full-fledged series, PARTNERS might have been a decent fit with ABC’s other female-oriented crime shows like Castle and Body of Proof, but based on the pilot, its only points of distinctiveness were probably too gimmicky and contrived to work.
The title characters Mattie (Scottie Thompson) and Jess (Annie Wersching) are, of course, partnered as police homicide detectives, but that’s not all. In Edward Bernero’s script (he was longtime showrunner on Criminal Minds and co-created Third Watch), they’re also–unbeknownst to all–half-sisters. But wait, there’s more. Their mother is in prison for having murdered Mattie’s father, which is also apparently unknown to the entire police force. And as we find out at the end of the hour (I don’t think there can really be a spoiler alert for a busted pilot), actually–unbeknownst even to Mattie– Jess was the shooter, protecting her younger sister from the molestation she herself had suffered.
That’s an awful lot of baggage for an otherwise routine cop show. And “routine” is the right word, because the pilot hardly puts the show’s best foot forward plot-wise, relying on the oldest “twist” in the murder-mystery book: if a married man’s mistress is murdered and it turns out he didn’t do it, who else would have had a motive to kill his lover? Exactly. Add the usual cliches of hero cops leaping into action without backup, doubting but ultimately supportive superior officers, and miraculously obtained warrants, and you have a show that’s familiar for all the wrong reasons.
The only bright spots in the pilot are the two stars: Thompson was the highlight of NBC’s short-lived Trauma, and Wersching was a key part of 24‘s last 2 seasons until the sin of having sex with Jack Bauer led to her character’s immediate death. Even though the sisters are unoriginal (Jess is happily married and follows the rules; Maddie is rebellious and devoted to the single life), the actresses are good company. Not good enough, though, to make Partners worthwhile.
Partners, which was produced in-house by ABC Studios, could actually have had a chance to live on a cable network, but presumably USA, TNT and Lifetime had full slates of their own and/or couldn’t make the economics work. No great loss: the Partners pilot didn’t have the look of a show with much potential to be memorable.
The Sked’s Verdict: The Network Was Right
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