You’ve got to hand it to Wicked City. The show certainly paid for the rights to use lot of ‘80s songs. Just a bunch of ‘em, really crammed in there. That’s about all you have to give it credit for, though, because everything else in ABC’s new serial-killer drama is as by-the-book as it comes. Does a cop say “Whaddaya got?” as he ducks under yellow caution tape to approach a dead woman’s body? He does. Do they refer to this woman as “our girl”? Of course. Does it pass the Bechdel test? Ha, of course not.
Ladies, be careful out there: You might get stabbed to death while fellating a serial killer’s flaccid penis. What a way to go, on network TV, of all places. Your dead body could be subject to a “postmortem party,” as helpfully described not even ten minutes into the plot. Your head could wind up in a box on a table. Your name could be “Karen McClaren” (Taissa Farmiga), as if that is not the Rural Juror of names. Also, don’t fall into the thrall of a seedy dude who promises to help you (Ed Westwick). He is a murderer! Or if it’s the other seedy guy who promises to help you, he is a cop! The cop is Jeremy Sisto, and you don’t cast Jeremy Sisto to be “nice, helpful, upstanding cop.” So. Be careful either way.
Gentlemen, be careful out there: You might have to listen to crapola lines, like “Don’t give me your Constitution crap!” while Jeremy Sisto assaults you. You might struggle to achieve an erection with a living woman — unless she agrees to, like, act dead (Erika Christensen) — because you had a single mom and you’re a serial killer and you wear necklaces.
Quick, make a list of the other rote aspects of serial-killer stories: Our lead detective is haunted by his past; one cop is a careerist, out-for-himself type; there is a wife and she’s being cheated on; one of our characters is a nurse in the white uniform and everything; and, yes, there are the faces of the previous victims ominously tacked up on a bulletin board. Let’s pontificate about the killer’s state of mind — what he thinks about when he kills. There’s a reporter, but get this: She is maybe too close to the case?
ABC is claiming Wicked City will be an anthology series, with a new premise each season, but we’d all be better off if Wicked City had a newer premise right now for this season. Westwick’s sleazy preening is fun for a little while, and Farmiga’s giving way more to her determined-reporter role than is written, but that does not an entire show make. The biggest sin here isn’t blow-job murder. It’s how boring that blow-job murder is.