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TV Series Review

Mismatched police partnerships are as common in crime-and-cop buddy movies and TV shows as coffee and donuts—more, in this health-conscious age. For every Starsky there's a Hutch, for every Murtaugh there's a Riggs, for every Turner there's a Hooch. If one cop's a by-the-book do-gooder, the other's bound to be a shoot-from-the-hip, fresh-off suspension type of guy. If one's a dedicated mother of three, the other's a hard-drinking womanizer. But somehow they make it work. Sure, they get on each other's nerves. That's a requirement of the trope, after all. But eventually they come to see that their different skills and outlooks make them a better team.

I'm not sure that'll ever happen with Travis and Wes.

Oh, they both hate crime and love fighting it. They have crime-fighting IQs that are, we're told, "off the charts." But when there's not an actual baddie in sight, the two turn on each other like Siamese fighting fish. And since both pack handguns, that's not such a great thing.

Their conflict might've stayed under the radar had Wes not pulled his weapon on Travis. Now the quarrelsome couple are being forced to attend counseling sessions. Couples' counseling sessions—populated by heterosexual pairs looking to rekindle a little relational spark. Naturally, the presence of two dudes in class causes a bit of confusion at first.

"We voted for your proposition!" one attendee says. "Are you married?" another asks.

No, no. It's nothing like that. Travis has more conquests under his belt than Genghis Khan, while the most intimate relationship Wes has right now is with his ex-wife's lawn—which he shares custody of. Still, the two spend far more time with each other than anyone else, so maybe counseling makes some sense.

If these were real people, I'd be quite happy to see them getting some professional help. Especially if their cubicles were across the aisle from mine. Underneath all the snipping and sniping and occasional fistfighting, we know these guys appreciate and like each other just fine. We're talking about a lightweight dramedy on USA, after all—not some sort of gritty, nihilistic soul-pounder on premium cable. And perhaps there are people who, in watching Wes and Travis work through relational difficulties, will be inspired to put a little effort into their own.

But Common Law also has more problems than you might expect from a USA show. While the atmosphere may be light, content can be heavy—from gratuitous makeout scenes to depictions of internal organs in the autopsy room to some frank conversations about sex and murder. Foul language can be a problem too. And I'd imagine there'll be many more "misunderstandings" of Travis' and Wes' same-sex "relationship" in the future.

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Episode Reviews

Common-Law: 5-11-2012
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