Rainn Wilson solves crimes rudely in ‘Backstrom’


Two stars

Backstrom Thursdays, 9 p.m., Fox.

The title character of Fox’s new crime procedural Backstrom is yet another addition to the time-honored tradition of the douchebag detective, the guy (it’s almost always a guy) whose powers of detection are so keen that he has license to treat everyone around him terribly as long as he catches the criminals. Here, it’s Portland police Lt. Everett Backstrom (The Office’s Rainn Wilson), who heads up the Special Crimes Unit and is introduced in the first episode at his doctor’s office, being admonished for his unhealthy lifestyle (drinking, smoking, eating poorly). The “hilariously” racist and sexist Backstrom dismisses or indicts people based on personal prejudices, but because he’s almost always right, the show ends up endorsing those prejudices (in the first episode, he casually orders a black man to be interrogated based on his looks, and of course the man turns out to be guilty).

Wilson has experience making an unlikable character entertaining, but the efforts in later episodes to give Backstrom depth are disingenuous. The overqualified supporting actors (including Dennis Haysbert and Kristoffer Polaha) do what they can to prop up the star, but they can never transcend their roles as subordinates to TV’s latest misanthropic jerk who solves mildly interesting crimes.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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