The genre hybrid is a terrifying thing, borne of dark and terrible places, such as television executives' heads. As likely to be brilliant (Sci-Fi + Western = Firefly!) as terrible (Cop show + Musical = Cop Rock!), the genre hybrid occurs when someone who is paid far more than you or I will ever make looks at the Neilsen ratings, picks two reasonably successful shows, and suggests that you do both! At once! Today's review looks at the latest thing to stem from this arduous creative process, Century City.
Century City is a science fiction legal drama that endeavors to ask the challenging and interesting question, "What will the law be like in 30 years?" Or, at least, it would be a challenging and interesting question if, say, it were being answered by a bunch of law professors. But it's not being answered by a bunch of law professors. It's being answered by the people who brought you JAG and Law and Order.
The problem with the show is that the legal drama works because of an agreed upon set of rules. You learn after about two episodes when the lawyer is going to shout "Objection" and all that jazz. After that, everything is pleasantly predictable, and you can watch with the comforting knowledge that it's always going to turn out exactly the same. That's the pleasure of law – it's a bunch of rules. Science fiction, on the other hand, works because you can make shit up. (Shit! Klingons! Reverse the anti-matter containment and jettison the neutron residue!) There's no rules. And when there are rules, they exist so that they can be constantly broken. (Prime Directive, anybody?)
This episode we had two plots – child star who wants to take a drug that will prevent puberty, and woman who was raped. The child star plot was, quite frankly, annoying as all fuck, and that's about all there is to say about it. The rape plot, on the other hand, was a far deeper and more interesting shade of mind-numbingly stupid. See, this woman was raped. Only she wasn't really raped. Actually, this guy put nanites into her boyfriend's drink, and then used the nanites to experience boyfriend having sex with her from 20 miles away.
In a plot advancement that makes little to no sense whatsoever, the D.A. refuses to prosecute the case, because it's not rape. Never mind that there's no doubt a bunch of other laws that were broken, including the whole spiking the drink with nanites thing. It wasn't rape, so the D.A. isn't interested. Instead, the case falls to our dashing young band of futuristic lawyers, who immediately decide that, even though it will be vastly harder for them, they're going to sue exclusively for rape, instead of for any of the other things that the guy also clearly did. Because they are lawyers of the future, driven to answer the question "What will the law be like in 2030." And also because the scriptwriter is a lazy hack.
In any case, the nano-rapist argues that it wasn't rape, because it was just a recording of the act, and really much more like a video game. And so to prove that it's not, our noble future-laywers decide to play the entire experience for the jury, so that they too can rape the client. Because apparently the experience was just traumatic enough that the client is willing to have it happen 16 more times. And also because, again, the scriptwriter is a lazy hack. This mass-rape, however, does lead to the one moment of the episode that approached interesting, as the entire jury simultaneously experiences what it would be like to have sex with the plaintiff.
Had the episode been written and directed by David Cronenberg, this would have been a great and disturbing moment. But it wasn't. And it sucked. It was unconvincing, and stupidly set up so that when we went to shots of what the boyfriend had been seeing, and thus what the plaintiff was experiencing, it looked, well, fake. It looked like the video game that this was supposed to be an exercise in showing it wasn't. Idiocy. Fucking idiocy.
The only redeeming thing I can find about this crap is that Hector Elizondo is in it. In this episode, however, he had about four lines, and didn't actually appear once in the last 40 minutes. Quite frankly, I would rather watch The Princess Diaries to see him than another episode of this crap.
Century City airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on CBS.