Pierce: ‘Deception’ smolders; ‘Cougar’ back in ‘Town’

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: January 4, 2013 07:25AM
Updated: May 5, 2013 11:31PM
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NBC's “Deception” stars Victor Garber as Robert Bowers, Meagan Good as Joanna Locasto, Wes Brown as Julian Bowers, Katherine LaNasa as Sophia Bowers, Ella Rae Peck as Mia Bowers, Tate Donovan as Edward Bowers and Laz Alonso as Will Moreno. (Photo by: J.R. Mankoff/NBC)

NBC’s “Deception” wants to be two shows in one. A lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous soap opera and a murder mystery.

The result is a show that starts slow and struggles to do either well. It’s OK, but it’s not the show that “Revenge” is. And the folks at NBC were clearly hoping “Deception” would be their “Revenge.”

I reviewed “Revenge.” “Revenge” is one of my favorite shows. “Deception,” you’re no “Revenge.”

The mystery in “Deception,” which premieres Monday at 9 p.m. on Channel 5, surrounds the death of Vivian Bowers. She appears to have died from a drug overdose, but if that were the case there would be no show.

Vivian is one of the heirs to a family pharmaceuticals empire, which has created a very rich, very warped and very secretive clan. And FBI agent Will Moreno (Laz Alonso) is convinced that hiding inside that family is the truth about what happened to Vivian.

And he’s got a way in. Through one of those miraculous TV coincidences, his old police partner/girlfriend, Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good), is Vivian’s former best friend. Joanna grew up inside the family mansion, as she’s the daughter of one of the Bowerses’ servants.

She shows up at Vivian’s funeral, and family patriarch Robert (Victor Garber) quickly welcomes her back into the fold. His eldest son, Edward (Tate Donovan), is suspicious. And there are mysteries involving the rest of the family (Wes Brown, Katherine LaNasa and Ella Rae Peck) that may or may not have something to do with Vivian’s death.

Of the first three hours, Episode 1 is the weakest, mostly because there’s so much set-up it’s like a fire that’s emitting lots of smoke and not much creating a lot of flames. Episodes 2 and 3 are an improvement, but whether this thing ever actually catches fire — and if anybody is still watching it if it does — is an iffy proposition.

Return to “Cougar Town”

For the past three seasons, “Cougar Town” was the funniest sitcom on ABC. But the network never could figure out how to schedule it, and it never became the hit it should have been.

So now it’s moving to cable’s TBS (Wednesday, 8 p.m.), and it’s pretty much the same show it was on ABC. Same cast. Same premise. It even picks up the day after the events of the last ABC episode (which aired more than seven months ago).

But co-creators/writers/producers Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel are not running “Cougar Town.” They’re consultants, but they’ve moved on to other projects — which isn’t a good thing.

The fourth-season premiere is OK, but it’s not close to being one of the series’ better episodes. There are some funny moments, and I still love “Cougar Town.” But I’m worried.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.