If Christian Slater's last show, My Own Worst Enemy, had been a little less high-concept, it might still be on the air today. After all, Slater is eminently likable, and he played two great characters alongside a strong supporting cast. But the plot, in which Slater flip-flopped between a spy persona and a suburban dad cover, could get confusing, especially since the line between his two lives was shattered from the word "go." (The fact that Dollhouse has made it to a second season with a similar plotline is a testament to Joss Whedon's fan base and Eliza Dushku's workout regimen.) So what do you do with a charismatic lead like Slater now? You put him in an incredibly familiar show, one that your viewers can understand easily, since it's pretty much a duplicate of the popular show Cold Case.
So: the most recent episode of Cold Case. Yeah, I'm "the one" who still watches that show. Why? I do like my crime procedurals, but CC's formula has gotten a bit tired, particularly the ruthlessly on-the-nose musical cues selected to highlight whatever era the cold case du jour belongs to -- and Kathryn Morris is likeable, but in the last couple of seasons, she's stopped giving her acting much nuance; the character seems to exist at one of two poles, "near angry tears" or "beaming bittersweetly."
And then the show will pull shit like it did last Sunday (stop reading now if you DVRed it and don't want to know). The serial-killer plot was a bit too neat -- although compared with SVU's take on serial murderers from last week, it seemed like a model of restraint -- but it was paced well, and it worked for me until the end, when it was clear that the killer was going to either kill himself or try some sort of suicide-by-cop thing. So why didn't Valens just aim for the fleshy part of the thigh and take him down first? It's not like he didn't have ample opportunity; the killer's speechifying went on for a good two minutes. I suppose it's more dramatic, in theory, to have the guy slit his own throat than for Valens to clip him in the leg, but in practice, when every episode ends with a musical montage anyway, I don't see why the writers fell back on Ebert's "talking villain" cheat.
Needlessly gory climaxes, lazy acting by Morris -- I should just take Cold Case off the DVR, I suppose. But I keep watching it for Jeremy Ratchford and Thom Barry, who still turn in touching performances and keep it authentic. And John "Sheriff Witter" Finn as the boss is good, too.