Wrecking crew

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For Starz subscribers, there was virtually no escaping Friday's premiere of the highly touted original series Crash, because the TV spinoff of Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning feature debuted on multiple Starz channels simultaneously. At least Starz Kids & Family offered a reprieve from the show, exactly what I needed after watching back-to-back episodes.

Where Haggis' film offered a short dip in a concentrated pool of rage-filled urban race relations, the series he executive-produces (alongside Don Cheadle) asks you to soak in it for 13 episodes. None of the film's characters have carried over, but the new group represents the same mix of social strata, and displays the same frustratingly reductive take on the issue at hand.

The cops, such as Ross McCall's cocky philanderer, are completely obnoxious. Male civilians like Dennis Hopper's enigmatic, sometimes incoherent record producer are mostly angry. The women are just sorry, from the upper-middle-class housewife (Clare Carey) who's spending in indirect proportion to her husband's success, to the gypsy trophy wife (Moran Atias) who gives herself to McCall's cop after he wrecks her car (the premium cable gods must've demanded one nasty sex scene per episode).

No surprise that Hopper's weirdly fascinating, and the "doctor" who lives with him is an enticing mystery, but save a couple of exceptions, these characters would try the patience of most after five minutes. It doesn't help that, despite the unusually free flow of racial epithets and scapegoating, they don't seem to be saying anything new.


10 p.m. Fridays, Starz