TV Review: Fox’s ‘Backstrom”

Fox’s Backstrom—starring Rainn Wilson as an offensive and brilliant detective—premieres Thursday, Jan. 22 at 9 p.m. ET. The crime procedural is created and executive produced by Bones’ Hart Hanson. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

"As a general rule, caution should be taken to avoid judging a television show by its tumultuous development process. The journey from pitch to pilot to pick-up can be circuitous and bumpy, and it’s easy to overestimate the significance of the fits and starts by which a show makes it to air. Fox’s new cop drama Backstrom, which was euthanized by CBS before Fox reanimated it, is the exception to the rule. In Backstrom’s case, its false start actually did portend the quality of the product, and seems in hindsight like an omen unwisely ignored."
Joshua Alston,A.V. Club

"Shepherded along by Bones’ Hart Hanson, this is the sort of meat-and-potatoes drama that doesn’t feel distinctive enough to do much more than tread water on Fox, even with American Idol’s kick-start."
—Brian Lowry,Variety

"At a time when so many excellent, imaginative crime shows abound, it’s almost insulting that Fox would squander energy, talent and money on this one."
—Alessandra Stanley,New York Times

"There are some interesting ideas, like calling out Gen-Xers for romanticizing pessimism, and several well-cast, offbeat supporting characters, but Backstrom needs to find a more cohesive voice and stronger case-of-the-week plots if it wants to keep walking the primetime beat."
—Jeff Jensen,Entertainment Weekly

"This is a standard-issue procedural whose lineage stretches back to a time when TVs had rabbit ears and Chevys had fins. It's all deeply familiar territory, while Backstrom/Wilson has been surrounded by some seasoned TV pros — like Dekker, Kennedy, Polaha and Haysbert — who humanize him."
—Verne Gay,Newsday

"Clearly, Backstrom wants to be the cop version of “House.” But that show worked because Hugh Laurie is so effective at being dour. For all his considerable ability, Wilson isn’t. He always seems to be faking it. In essence, he’s playing Dwight Schrute, and the only way he approaches being 'almost unrecognizable' is that he wears grubby clothes under an orange plastic poncho and doesn’t shave."
—David Wiegand,San Francisco Chronicle