Imagine a TV series that tells a single story over 10 episodes and you can watch those episodes in any order you want. Sounds sort of insane, right?
And yet the new CBS All Access series “Interrogation” does pretty much exactly that. And … much to my surprise … it’s good. I was beyond skeptical, but got sucked into the narrative.
It’s a crime drama, and it’s not altogether random. There’s a first episode (titled “Eric Fisher”) and a last episode (titled “Trey Carano”), but you can watch the other eight episodes in any order you want. (All 10 episodes start streaming Thursday on CBS All Access.)
It’s a murder mystery producers insist is based on a real case — which they (weirdly) declined to identify, although they did say they changed the names and a number of details. In 1983, teenager Eric Fisher (Kyle Gallner) is suspected of murdering his mother, Mary (Joanna Going), in a gruesome fashion. The detective assigned to the case, David Russell (Peter Sarsgaard) is convinced Eric is guilty and does whatever it takes to get the teen convicted.
And the narrative is spread across more than two decades as Eric — who maintains his innocence — fights to have the case reopened by another LAPD detective (Vincent D’Onofrio).
“Every episode centers on an interrogation,” said executive producer Anders Weidemann — so each is told from a different perspective. “You start to follow the evidence. Like a detective, you pick your own investigative path through the episodes and the interrogations.”
“And the multilinear structure, as it turns out, is how real cold-case detectives approach an old case,” added executive producer John Mankiewicz. “They throw out the original linear narrative because it was wrong and just follow the evidence. In our case, the evidence is episodes.”
And not all those interrogated tell the truth. There are “reliable or unreliable narrators,” as Mankiewicz put it.
Yes, it’s a gimmick. And, no, it’s not perfect. But it is intriguing. And the crime story — which feels sort of familiar — is strong enough to make the gimmick work.
“Interrogation” is an attempt at a different way of telling that story. I absolutely applaud the effort.
“LEGO Masters” (Wednesday, 8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13) • Speaking of shows that sound odd, there’s this reality/competition show in which contestants — you guessed it! — build stuff out of Legos.
It’s not great art, but it is surprisingly entertaining. Host Will Arnett keeps things in perspective — it’s fun! — but there’s a certain amount of drama as contestants build amazingly elaborate displays.
I’m not sure how long the fun can last, but the premiere is certainly enjoyable.
“Katy Keene” (Thursday, 8 p.m., The CW/Ch. 30) • This is sort of a spinoff of “Riverdale” and comes to us from the producers of that show and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” but it’s surprisingly meh. There are no dead bodies and no black magic. It’s just not-particularly-interesting Katy (Lucy Hale) and her friends — including “Riverdale” refugee Josie (Ashleigh Murray) — trying to make their dreams come true in the Big City.
There’s no hook. No reason to watch. Meh.
“Indebted” (Thursday, 8:30 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5) • In this loud, unfunny new “comedy” — and I use that term loosely — the lives of a young married couple (Abby Elliott and Adam Pally) and their two kids are upended when his broke parents (Fran Drescher and Steven Weber) move in with them.
It’s remarkably bad. And the laugh track is beyond atrocious.
“Tommy” (Thursday, 9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) • New York cop Abigail “Tommy” Thomas (Edie Falco) moves to Los Angeles, where she’s been named the first female chief of police. Oh, and she’s a lesbian.
The police procedural part of this is mundane and derivative. The part about Tommy’s personal life — her conflicts with her estranged daughter — is like nails on a chalkboard.
Even in this inferior show, it’s easy to like Falco. But it’s impossible to work up any enthusiasm for “Tommy.”