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Under the Dome: TV Review

NBC's new global crime drama attempts to dress up a tired concept with an international setting.
Donald Sutherland, Richard Flood, William Fichtner, Gabriella Pession, Tom Wlaschiha and Marc Lavoine in Crossing Lines
 (Photograph: Etienne Chognard/Tandem)
Photograph: Etienne Chognard/TandemDonald Sutherland as Dorn in Crossing Lines
 (Photograph: Etienne Chognard/Tandem)
Photograph: Etienne Chognard/TandemTom Wlaschiha as Sebastian Berger, Moon Dailly as Anne-Marie San and William Fichtner as Carl Hickman in Crossing Lines
 (Photograph: Etienne Chognard/Tandem)
Photograph: Etienne Chognard/TandemGabriella Pession as Eva Vittoria in Crossing Lines
 (Photograph: Etienne Chognard/Tandem)
Photograph: Etienne Chognard/TandemTom Wlaschiha as Sebastian Berger and Marc Lavoine as Louis Bernard in Crossing Lines
 (Photograph: Etienne Chognard/Tandem)
Photograph: Etienne Chognard/TandemDonald Sutherland as Dorn and Marc Lavoine as Louis Bernard in Crossing Lines
 (Photograph: Etienne Chognard/Tandem)
Photograph: Etienne Chognard/TandemMarc Lavoine as Louis Bernard in Crossing Lines
Crossing Lines on NBC
By Jessica Johnson |

The two-hour pilot premieres Sunday, June 23 at 8pm on NBC, subsequent episodes will air Sundays at 9pm.

The police procedural is a well-known staple of broadcast television and for good reason; few subjects feed the weekly storytelling beast of TV better. NBC has aired some creative reinventions of this genre in recent years, such as the gruesomely beautiful Hannibal and the mind-bending Awake. With Crossing Lines, the case-of-the-week structure is sent across the Atlantic to investigate crimes that traverse the borders of European countries. The result is, unfortunately, nothing more than a superficial makeover of the familiar template.

Crossing Lines finds French National Police officer Louis Daniel (Marc Lavoine) cobbling together a team of detectives under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The purpose of this new super band of detectives, each of them bringing unique specialities to the operation, is to operate as a kind of FBI for Europe by investigating crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of more than one country. Their inaugural case is that of a serial killer that has murdered women in multiple countries, leaving their mutilated bodies in public parks. To catch this killer, Daniel enlists the aid of former NYPD detective Carl Hickman (William Fichtner). Hickman's had a rough time of it ever since he was permanently injured after taking a bullet in the hand while pursuing a suspect. Since then, he lost his job and now makes money picking up trash at an amusement park in France. As if that wasn't pathetic enough, he also lives in a trailer and is addicted to morphine patches.

The premise of tracking criminals through different countries, with a cast of characters from France, England, Ireland, Germany and the United States, should be rife with opportunities for clashes of personality and culture, but Crossing Lines seems content to just stick with boring stereotypes. This is particularly in annoying in the case of Irish detective Tommy McConnel (Richard Flood), who's a hothead bare-knuckle boxer that butts heads with Fichtner's American detective and English interrogation specialist Sienna Pride (Genevieve O'Reilly). It would also seem that this premise offers the possibility of language barriers driving wedges between characters or complicating investigations, but this doesn't come into play in their first case. Despite much of the two-hour pilot being set in France (with three of team-members being French), almost all of the dialogue is delivered in English, save for a brief scene where German is subtitled.

The presence of Donald Sutherland in the cast seems like a bit of a ploy to impress American audiences. As an ICC bureaucrat, he only has a handful of brief scenes in the pilot, one of which involves him explaining to a group of pigeons why it's illegal for him to feed them. Really, that happens. It's hard to understand how he'll fit into the show going forward, as he barely interacts with anyone in the cast but Lavoine and those conversations are largely about creating this new ICC team.

As a co-production with French company Tandem Communications, Crossing Lines was actually filmed in France and the Czech Republic, but even with that added production value, the pilot looks more like a mediocre straight-to-DVD film than a polished TV series. Despite it's new approach to the premise, this show is just another addition to the growing collection of serviceable murder-of-the-week dramas.

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