I was intrigued by the British crime series, TOUCHING EVIL, when it first premiered on PBS as part of the
program Mystery! and Robson Green gave a compelling protrayl as DI David Creegan who comes back to work for the OSC months
after he got a bullet to the head. Creegan lost so much when he was recovering from his injury and he has different approach
to solving crime that puts him at odds with the people he is working with. TOUCHING EVIL ran for three seasons for a total
of 14 episodes in the UK (and some of the episodes were co-produced with WGBH Boston, a PBS station). Bruce Willis liked what
he saw when he watched this show and bought the rights to remake it for a US audience. It made me wonder if the US version
was going to be any good if it did get made.
Finally, the US version of TOUCHING EVIL premieres on USA on March 12 at 9 pm ET/PT with a two hour pilot.
The show now takes place in San Francisco, California. OSC Agent David Creegan (Jeffrey Donovan) returns to work at the OSC
(Organized and Serial Crime unit) after being shot in the head three years ago. He is partnered with Agent Susan Branca (Vera
Farmiga) who thinks Creegan shouldn't be back at the OSC. Branca is by-the-book while Creegan relies on instinct. Creegan
and Branca investigate a series of children abductions around San Francisco and it leads them to a case of two boys who were
abducted back in 1997 in Denver. Their prime suspect is Professor Ronald Hinks, who works at Kessler Technologies- a bioengineering
company, and he was a material witness in the Denver abductions that lead to the boys being found dead a week after they were
Creegan knows time is against him as he tries to readjust to working in the FBI again and keep going after
Hinks despite others at the OSC saying there is no evidence to get Hinks. Creegan just knows Hinks is the abductor.
The music is great in the pilot and helps create the mood and atmosphere of the story being told including
the use of two Nine Inc nails songs ("A Warm Place" at the start of the pilot and "The Day the World Went Away" at the end
of the pilot). The pilot is an adaptation of the first story from the UK original (Through The Clouds Part 1 and Part 2) with
Bruno Heller writing the teleplay for the US pilot. Albert Hughes directs the pilot which has some great shots in it from
the director of Photogrpahy, Attila Szalay.
The US remake of TOUCING EVIL has potential. It succeeds at many levels because the producers of the show
(and Bruno Heller) have adapted the chaarcters and concepts without trying to change the core concepts too much and introducing
new characters instead of trying to adapt every single character from the UK series. Some US remakes I like better than the
original UK versions (like CRACKER) and some don't quite work totally until it tells totally new stories (COUPLING which NBC
unfortunately cancelled too quickly and the British origianl is great) while other US remakes just are terrible comapred to
their UK counterparts.
Jeffrey Donovan is the right choice for the role of Creegan (FYI- Bruce Willis did offer the part to Robson
Green (he played Creegan in the original UK version), but Green passed because he said it was like going back to school).
Jeff has great chemistry with Vera Farmiga. This is a very well cast pilot with good performances from all around, buy Jeffrey
Donovan steals the show as Creegan (and yet I wish they tone down Creegan's sarcastic and has no shame aspect). When Jeffrey
is playing Creegan as a man running on instinct and feeling too much emotion (because his emotions are now unchecked), he
has captured what made Creegan great in the British version that it sucks you right into Creegan's world. The only suggestion
to producers and writers is to please tone down the no shame and sarcasm aspects of the US version of Creegan.
On the other side of the coin, Creegan may be sarcastic because he is still trying to cope with what happened
to him three years ago (like being dead for ten minutes in the hospital after he was shot). I think Creegan is the best part
that Jeffrey Donovan has played so far. I like how he approaches the character of Creegan at most times. He shows how Creegan's
life is a mess as Creegan is trying to get back to work at the OSC. Branca thinks he's not ready while the boss wants to give
Creegan a chance (and even cuts him some slack).
The shows starts out really intense, then it hits some stumbling blocks in parts of the pilot. I think it
may have to do with pacing issues, but the premiere episode is right on target most of the time. TOUCHING EVIL is one of the
newest crime dramas that shows so much promise and I hope the show only gets better episode by episode. I hope TOUCHING EVIL
is around for more than one season.
TOUCHING EVIL is the best crime drama on Friday night since CSI started on Friday years ago (before it moved
over to Thursday). Forget THIRD WATCH Beacuase just is running out of steam storywise. if you want something good to watch
on Fridays, check out TOUCHING EVIL.
Does this show fare well against the British version? yes. I recently watched the second season of the British
series on my local PBS station. Robson Green put in an intense performance as DI David Creegan, and the storylines were never
abandoned as the chracters developed through the six episodes of season 2. Past actions in earlier episodes come back to haunt
the characters as there are some consequences to be had. I hope this US remake holds up to the development of the characters
through the series just like the British orginal did. The characters in the US pilot (except for Creegan) weren't really touched
on that much, and I hope the writers do develop the cast of characters that work at the OSC. I'll stick around for at least
a few episodes to see the show stays as good as the pilot or gets even better.
you can watch an one minute preview at http://www.usanetwork.com/series/touchingevil and more stuff will be added to that web site soon. TOUCHING EVIL premieres with a 2 hour episode
at 9 pm ET/PT in the US on the USA Network on March 12. Regular one hour episodes start at 10 pm ET/PT on
Fridays from March 19.
For more info on the original UK series, check out the Touching Evil pages at the Robson Green web site:
OTHER COMMENTS AND INFO:
Now the screener DVD of the premiere episode features the 87 minute pilot (once you take all the ads out and
have no end credits) in 1.78:1 widescreen (too bad the show probably will going be in full frame format because the show looks
great in widescreen). The picture and sound are great, but you can tell the picture isn't the best when you pause it to show
the flaws hiding beneath (this is a screener DVD of the pilot sent out to the press and top DVD quality isn't the highest
As for the press kit, it is a nice designed fold out orange folder that shows the catch phrase (for the show)
inside of "What didn't kill him...made him stranger". There is a misprint on one of the sheets in the kit with someone getting
Susnan Branca's name misprinted as Susan Veracruz. I also wonder why they are calling Creegan and Branca detectives when they
are clearly FBI agents. So it should be listed as Agent David Creegan (and Creegan even introduces himself to people as Agent
Creegan) and not Detective David Creegan. Everyone should know that police detectives in San Francisco are called inspectors,
but that is moot since Creegan is FBI and the OSC is a fictional branch of the OSC. In the real San Francisco, the FBI has
a White Collar Crime Unit and an Organized Crime unit, but no Organized and Serial Crime unit actually exists in San Francisco
(to my knowledge).
The pilot episode cast: Jeffrey Donovan (Agent David Creegan), Vera Farmiga (Agent Susan Branca), Zeljko Ivanek
(Professor Ronald Hinks), Zach Grenier, Brian Markinson, Peter Wingfield (Agent Krakauer), Kevin Durand (Agent Jay Swopes),
Garry Chalk, Debbie Morgan (Ilene), and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Cyril)
casting by Janet Hirshenson, C.S.A. and Jane Jenkins, C.S.A.
Music: Atticus Ross, Claudia Sarne, Leo Ross
edited by Cindy Mollo
production designer- Sheila Haley
D.P.- Attila Szalay, C.S. & H.S.C.
co-producer- Martha Haight
producer- James Bigwood
exec producers- Antony Root, The Hughes Brothers, Bruce Willis, Arnold Rifkin
teleplay by Bruno Heller
based on the Granada TV series "TOUCHING EVIL"
created by Paul Abbot
Directed by Allen Hughes
this review is (c)3-2-2004 David Blackwell and this review can't be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to
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