Monday, March 19, 2007

The One That Got Away

October 15, 2003 (ABC)
Writer: Jason Smilovic
Director: Michael Dinner

U.S. marshal Karen Sisco (Carla Gugino), already worn out from 27 consecutive hours on the job, becomes increasingly frazzled when con artist and cop killer Nicholas Pell (Thomas Kretchmann) escapes from custody, assumes the identity of a marshal, and slips right through her fingers at the airport. A smooth talker who has married four wealthy women and bilked them of their fortunes, Pell periodically phones Karen on her cell and tries to seduce her with promises of writing a song with her name in it.

Meanwhile, Alvin Simmons (Xander Berkeley), a former mob accountant who testified against Charlie Lucre (played by Danny DeVito in “Dumb Bunnies”) and was relocated to Kansas in the Witness Protection Program, shows up in Miami, where Karen finds him at one of Charlie’s strip clubs. Lonely in Wichita after his wife and son left him and tired of looking over his shoulder for one of Charlie’s hitmen, Alvin wants to die and leave his son a million-dollar insurance policy. It’s up to Karen and, unofficially, her father Marshall (Robert Forster) to keep Alvin alive until the next flight back to Wichita.

Both stories are rich enough for their own episode, and “The One That Got Away” is one plot too many. Neither is given enough screen time to flex its muscles, though Berkeley’s tender performance is strong enough to disappoint the audience whenever the other storyline is playing out. And if that isn’t enough, Karen also contemplates her own loneliness while romancing a married man named Will (Carlos Ponce). Her dad thinks Will’s a great catch, though it’s obvious that Will feels uncomfortable around a woman who carries a gun and has killed men with it.

Dinner, whose overly flashy direction is occasionally annoying (for instance, a clich├ęd 360-degree spin around Karen at the airport, meant to signify her confusion, yet succeeds only in giving us a headache), assembles a stellar guest cast. In addition to Kretchmann (KING KONG) and Berkeley (the ill-fated George Mason on 24), “The One That Got Away” features Martha Plimpton (RUNNING ON EMPTY) as Pell’s fourth wife, Jake Busey (acting normal for a change) as a fellow marshal, an unbilled Sarah Clarke as Alvin’s wife (she and Berkeley fell in love for real when she was playing the treasonous agent Nina Myers on 24’s first season), DeVito (his voice only) and Peter Horton as FBI agent Ray, likely Ray Nicolet, the character played by Michael Keaton in OUT OF SIGHT and JACKIE BROWN.

No opening title sequence in this episode, possibly because the dueling plots made it run long.

Even though Karen says she’s lived in her apartment for two years, it’s not the same place (though likely the same set) we see in the pilot with the cool porthole-windowed front door.

Though Marshall had mostly been seen, to this point, as an amiable guy with a sense of humor and much love for his daughter, we finally get a taste of what he was like as a lawman, when he faces down a machine-gun-wielding assassin in his back yard.

Writer Smilovic was KAREN SISCO’s co-executive producer and series developer. He went on to write the film LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN and create the shortlived NBC series KIDNAPPED, whose pilot was directed by Michael Dinner.

1 comment:

Nostalgia Kinky said...

Thanks for continuing to post these reviews. They are making me miss this show even more, I'm glad I got them on tape when I could. It seems the dream of getting a DVD release for it is slipping further away.
Thanks again for your thoughtful and informative reviews....