L.A.'s Finest seeks to capture the frenetic action and charming banter of Bad Boys and bring it to television, and it succeeds. It was always going to take a lot to follow in the shoes of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, who brought Miami PD cops Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett to life in the first two films, but Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba manage to do just that, quickly forming a playful but authentic bond between partners that allows all the other elements to work.
It helps that the show has small but effective ties to the overall franchise. Union reprises her role as Sydney Burnett, Marcus' sister that we met in Bad Boys II. Some time has passed since those events, and in many ways, she's become more like Mike, which makes sense given the two previously got along so well. That makes her a great and fallible foil to Alba's Nancy McKenna, who is more like the Marcus of the duo, though with some major differences, and some of those are the most intriguing part of the series so far.
Neither Sydney or McKenna are carbon copies of Mike and Marcus, and they couldn't be if the show were ever going to stand on its own. There's much more to McKenna's story as the season goes on, both in regards to her past and her current dynamic with her family, and those are layers that Marcus and Mike touched on but never truly explored in their previous films. The same can be said for Sydney and her relationship with her father Joseph, a fractured but endlessly intriguing dynamic that acts as the catalyst for much of Sydney's character growth over the course of the first three episodes.
While they both echo certain characteristics of their Bad Boys brethren, they also very much stand on their own. The depth is welcome too, and while not as deep just yet, their supporting cast is a pleasant surprise throughout the series. Their fellow detectives are good for a laugh but they shine in other ways too, including one standout exchange between Ben and Sydney. It delivers in the most unexpected and laugh-out-loud way, and if this is a sign of more to come, we couldn't be more excited.
The actual crime solving is clearly of lesser importance, but like in the films, provides the perfect scenarios to highlight the chemistry between the leads. You won't be mistaking this for true crime in any way, but it has perhaps more gravitas and realism than say a CSI Miami. It finds a nice middle ground between style and substance, though make no mistake about it, you're coming for the characters, not the detective work.
That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the style though, and L.A.'s Finest has plenty of it. The Bad Boys DNA is evident all through this series, from swooping and spinning camera angles to over-the-top car chases all punctuated with surprising moments of humor and heart when you least expect it. This show feels like a natural extension of the franchise, and we think Mike and Marcus would definitely agree.
Rating: 4 out of 5
L.A.'s Finest is the first of several upcoming Spectrum Originals, and the first three episodes will be available on Spectrum On Demand starting on May 13th. New episodes will release afterward every Monday.
This review is based on the first three episodes of the 13 episode series.