NOTE: For our thoughts on episode two scroll down.
I was introduced to "Paul Blue" during the opening segment of the series "803." It was a montage meant to familiarize me with the main character and give a brief glimpse of his history. Unfortunately, we're told that Paul's partner was killed in action sometime before this series begins, and I can sum "803" up in three words. Crusade, revenge, and Corruption. Let me tell you, reader; there's absolutely nothing wrong with those words for storytelling at all.
Chris Carter's pilot episode begins what could become an excellent series. The building blocks are all put into place, and the foundation is strong. I was thrown into Blue's world and left to face his version of horrors. From his past service to his country to his effort to start a new life as a cop, no stone is left untouched - even if we only get a peek underneath. Paul has been trying to take care of his partner's wife, a task she wants him to stop attempting, and Paul's life as a cop is under heavy scrutiny from the chief. As he continues to look for the people who killed his partner, he recruits some help which puts a target on his back from those who are truly in power. You get the idea. This is a bad guy cop drama, and it was much better than I had hoped. Not perfect, but still pretty damn good.
So, here is where I get to write something I don't usually have the opportunity to write. "803" is around twenty minutes in length, and honestly? It could have been a little longer. The pilot episode of this series never felt like it was dragged out, and even the way it was put together felt right. Starting things off with a quick montage and shortly after having an action sequence worked well to bring viewers into the show. An extra couple of minutes may have evened out this fast-paced episode. Usually, I write the opposite, but a little more meat would have been excellent in this case. On the technical side? An extra few minutes would have made the runtime perfect for an episodic series. Generally, your favorite half-hour show is around 24 minutes - leaving time for commercial breaks.
One thing I did notice was that I'm not really sure how to address Paul Blue. He's referred to as both officer and detective in the show. These are very different titles, and clarification should be made. Or, I just missed something along the way. It happens. But really - that doesn't really matter. "Blue" is the good guy with the bad guy attitude, and on so many levels, "803" has an excellent chance to be ... excellent.
That about sums things up for me. The pilot episode of "803" offers a lot of hope for excellence that I have a feeling will pan out as things progress. As I wrote above, all the pieces have been put into place. So for those looking for a well-crafted indie action series, you need not look any further. "803" is as good as it is promising—three and a half stars.
Episode two review.
Episode two of this series continues the escapades of officer Paul Blue as he continues his attempts to exact revenge on those who killed his partner. I should say upfront that this episode felt more polished than episode one and in general? I would rate episode two as somewhere between three and a half and four stars. Since this review page is for the entire series, I still feel overall that a three-point five-star review fits - but I am pretty impressed with the improvements of this episode in all significant respects.
Other than the obvious continuation of the story, there was one line within this episode that, for me, really sums things up. "In your heart, you know what's right." And that's just it, reader; not a whole lot happened with plot advancement, and this episode really revolved around testing the limits of loyalty. Front and center is new recruit Big Boy, and Blue wants to be sure he's the right man for the job. Experience and know-how are good, but loyalty is king - Paul not only understands this but takes steps to ensure it.
Other elements this episode tackles more in-depth are the corrosion and outright corruption of public officials. The theme continues from episode one, but it's slightly more fleshed out during this outing - and yes, in case you're wondering, the violence is still here during episode two, as is Blue's dilemma of crossing lines and right and wrong.
Truth be told? There are still some technical issues such as not being able to hear Blue's narration over the background music - and little things like that, but generally speaking? I was hoping for improvements and got much more than I anticipated. "803" continues to be a well-written, well-acted series, that honestly? I actually enjoyed more than some of the big-budget cop dramas I watch on television. There's definitely a gritty charm present, and I believe being a low-budget indie series really lends itself well to the story unfolding. Episode one of "803" was really good, and this episode was even better. Well done.