You know how "dead wife" is the go-to traumatic backstory for grizzled cops? Murder In The First is simply not going to conform to those procedural rules, instead giving us a wife in the process of dying. Much like how Raising The Bar was the ska of legal dramas, Murder is basically the punk rock of procedurals.
To start, Murder In The First is a procedural that, instead of doing a case of the week every episode (like your SVUs and your CSIs, etc.), goes against the grain and focuses on one case for the entire season. To start us off, there are actually two seemingly separate cases that might just be connected by one murderer, Tom Felton's Erich Blunt.
If you think that this premise has already been done before with even Steven Bochco's own Murder One, well, Steven Bochco basically said Murder In The First is better than Murder One. That is, of course, because Murder In The First bucks the rules of the procedural world.
The show promises to be different from other shows like, say, The Killing by virtue of solving the crime within the first season.
The show takes place in San Francisco, where detectives are called "inspectors." That's different already. No one's eaten any Rice-A-Roni or hopped a cable car yet, and that's obviously because this isn't your mom's San Francisco. The prime suspect is a Silicon Valley wiz kid, and he's exactly the type of guy Richard and the boys would stay far, far away from.
At one point, Inspectors Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) intimidate child witnesses to the point where one of the kids pees his pants.
If that's not the definition of punk rock, then what is?
As mentioned, Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton, plays Erich Blunt, an American tech mogul and an all-around bad guy. British guy playing an American? Already zagging where you thought they would zig.
With his threats of murdering his competition—"Oh Jeremy, I'm going to take you to court and I'm going to kill you"—in front of witnesses and episodes where he blows up at his employees, he's clearly not to be trusted. It doesn't matter if he's sleeping with you, everyone is garbage to him.
But he's so absurdly evil already he couldn't possibly be the bad guy. Kind of like in Harry Potter, actually. Murder In The First knows you'll expect him to be the villain, but he won't be. Bucking the system!
It could possibly be his lawyer, David Hertzberg, played by Richard Schiff. Basically, the most obvious and recognizable suspect probably isn't the actual murderer (assuming there is just one murderer for these two crimes related to Blunt). That's just logical procedural work, punk rock or not.
Then again, there is also Steven Weber's Bill Wilkerson. He's Blunt's driver, pilot, and friend (or "friend"). If he's the murderer, it could possibly be a darkest timeline version of his Wings character, and that very concept is definitely... different.
The character description for Ian Anthony Dale's Lieutenant Jim Koto paints him as "the squad's no-nonsense supervisor," but Murder In The First actually says screw that as they have Koto get rid of an interrogation DVD where Taye Diggs uses excessive force on a suspect. A positive spin on police brutality is only really being shown on Chicago P.D., but since that's currently on hiatus, Murder In The First counts as summer pioneer of that trend.
Also, Dale wears the hell out of a suit, and absolutely no one else on television is doing that at this very moment.
The dying wife. Terry sees his dying wife everywhere. Literally.
She's like a ghost who is haunting him, and she hasn't even died yet. Damn cancer. It affects his ability to focus on the job, where he has to work with these scumbags instead of taking care of his poor, dying wife. He doesn't even notice how gorgeous his recently divorced partner is. It's that bad. Even though Terry looks like Taye Diggs, he's the common man, as evidenced by his flip phone and dying wi—
Oh crap, the wife dies at the end. Disregard everything I just said. Except for Ian Anthony Dale in a suit. Murder In The First is, sadly, not the punk rock of procedurals. It's actually more like the classic rock of procedurals.
It's still got a hell of a cast though, right?
[Images via TNT]