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The Bridge is a serial killer show worth watching

Posted: July 11, 2013 at 2:55 a.m.

FX’s dark new drama, The Bridge, stars Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger as detectives working across the U.S.-Mexican border to catch a serial killer. The series airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays.

Regular readers of The TV Column know that I’m no big fan of the proliferation of serial killer shows. I do have a couple of exceptions.

The problem with most of the offerings in this bloated genre is that they demonstrate a disappointing lack of originality. Blood, guts and shock value substitute for innovation.

Trust FX, home of such outstanding past and present adult dramas as The Shield, Justified, The Americans, Rescue Me and Sons of Anarchy, to come up with the next riveting offering.

The Bridge, airing at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, is a finely crafted crime thriller exploring the tensions on the U.S.-Mexico border.

It co-stars German actress Diane Kruger (Troy, Inglourious Basterds as Sonya Cross, a detective with the El Paso, Texas, police department.

When an American judge is found dead smack dab on the borderline in the middle of the bridge over the Rio Grande, Cross is forced to work with her Mexican counterpart from the Chihuahua State Police, Marco Ruiz (veteran Mexican star Demian Bichir, Weeds, A Better Life), to catch a serial killer operating on both sides of the border.

Cross and Ruiz are fascinating, multidimensional characters. They are also complete opposites.

Ruiz appears to be the last honest man in his police force as it slowly succumbs to the pressures and demands of the Mexican drug cartel.

Ruiz may be charming and casual, but he’s also cunning and knows how to play the slippery game of politics that surrounds Mexican law enforcement. He will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Cross, on the other hand, is wound extremely tight. She’s a by-the-book officer who strictly follows protocol - a tendency not helped by her Asperger’s syndrome. Her condition causes her to be brusque, embarrassingly candid and off-putting. Being her partner is a challenge.

The case quickly sucks the duo into a string of murders on the border - a border rife with illegal immigration, drug trafficking, violence and prostitution.

Supporting actors in the series are Ted Levine (Monk) as Cross’ supervisor, Lt. Hank Wade, and Annabeth Gish (Mystic Pizza) as Charlotte Millwright, a socialite and recent widow who discovers her husband had some dark secrets.

Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo) plays Daniel Frye,a promising reporter whose career has crumbled into debauchery and booze.

Just as with AMC’s not dissimilar The Killing, The Bridge demands that viewers pay attention. There will be subtle character and plot revelations that will reward the attentive and baffle multitaskers. So wait for commercials to check Facebook and Twitter.

For those discerning viewers willing to give the series their attention, The Bridge may be just the thing to augment the summer fluff and lighter weight shows (see below).

Don’t forget, the final curtain call for Breaking Bad begins at 8 p.m. Aug. 11 on AMC. The Bridge will help bridge the gap until then.

Summer Camp. NBC debuted its scripted summer series Camp on Wednesday and now cable cousin USA has its unscripted offering in the wings.

Summer Camp debuts at 7 p.m. today and, according to USA publicity, “is a fun filled action-packed reality competition series featuring 16 die-hard adult campers from all walks of life as they duke it out in an epic battle of the sexes.”

Take the “epic” label with as many grains of salt as you wish. It’s just another summer competition show. This one, hosted by former American Idol contestant Matt Rogers and produced by the folks who bring us Big Brother, features competition inspired by classic camp games.

The contestants in the eight episodes run the usual gamut - tomboy, geek, hunky firefighter, model, pageant queen, class clown, nerd, etc. You know the drill.

Hollywood Game Night debuts at 9 p.m. today on NBC. Network publicity says it best: “Guest stars Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Martin Short, Alyson Hannigan, Kristen Bell and Daniel Dae Kim team up with normal people to compete in outrageous party games hosted by Jane Lynch.”

I’m going to presume that none of these celebrities took offense at not being labeled normal.

The pop culture contests feature a number of other celebs, such as Minnie Driver, Al Roker, Terry Crews, Hoda Kotb, Amy Poehler and Jason Alexander (with a spiffy new toupee). I assume they are normal.

The Haunted Hathaways arrives at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Nickelodeon. The half-hour comedy follows the adventures of Michelle Hathaway (Ginifer King) and her two daughters (Amber Montana, Breanna Yde) when they move to New Orleans and discover their new home is haunted by a jazz musician (Chico Benymon) and his sons (Curtis Harris, Benjamin “Lil P-Nut” Flores Jr.).

Hijinks and hilarity ensue. The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email: mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 28 on 07/11/2013

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