DA VINCI'S CITY HALL REVIEWS-SEASON EIGHT
Take heed to the title, O my Droogs. DVI titles are always ironic. Some have been as ironic as this one, but probably never more so. If you are new to the series, the above title is about as much time as you will have to get up to speed on what's going on. If you've been watching for the past seven seasons, you'll be wondering just what season you managed to miss. The titles are different. The intro is different (and the jazzy theme music--sniff--remains MIA). The characters have different things to do, with Da Vinci the mayor; Mick replacing him as coroner; Kosmo back on Homicide but paired with Joe Finn, her enemy in IAD from last year; Chick helping out on Homicide; Zack working directly for Da Vinci as his eyes and ears and Bill the Police Chief and his familiar Charlie Klotchko scheming against Da Vinci. Some characters, like Rose, Suki, Helen, Kurtz, Sue Lewis, Claire the mayor's assistant and [gasp!] Brian Curtis, appear to be gone for good. Others, like Maria the Pathologist and Leo, don't appear but do get a mention. A couple of folks, like the slimy lawyer who offs his clients and the sleazy city councilman who was blackmailed by Brian, get cameos. Everything has been reshuffled. But at its heart, just as the incidental music remains the same, so does the show. As the new website's motto goes: "Same Da Vinci. Same Vancouver. A whole lot more lives in the balance." This is season eight of Da Vinci. It just feels like season nine, that's all.
The double irony is that every character here, good and bad, also has just this hour to get up to speed. The seismic shift of the new regime is as massive for Da Vinci as it is for everyone around him. Sometimes, this is amusing. It's a real blast when Zack shows himself in the door of Da Vinci's office halfway through the episode and proceeds to have an entire conversation with Da Vinci about going undercover as a homeless man after planting himself in the mayor's chair and sticking his feet up on the desk. What a hoot to watch Zack wriggle around in the chair, claiming it for his own, as Da Vinci chuckles indulgently. It says something about Da Vinci that he can still talk to his friends, even as he's using them to help him consolidate his new and shaky hold on the city.
Several storylines kick off in this episode. One more or less gets resolved, though with sure repercussions down the road. The others are just getting going. We start off with Da Vinci gladhanding of an evening at the racetrack, trying to get support to refurbish it. Then, a police shooting of a recently-released mentally ill man living in a halfway house has Da Vinci shouting down the phone at Bill the Police Chief ("You can do zero to sixty pretty quick," one of his handlers tells him afterward, speaking the title line). He then visits a school being threatened by the sudden criminalization of their neighborhood, with pimps recruiting sixth-grade girls. Later, he has a meeting with a gay rights activist, Jason Horne, about an apparent gay-bashing in Stanley Park. Long-time viewers will remember at least one other fatal gay-bashing in the area from season six.
Meanwhile, Mick fields considerable hostility in his new role from the constables at the police shooting and meets up with Kosmo and Joe. Kosmo and Joe eventually solve the case after following a lead about a vicious dog and busting a witness with night-vision goggles and an illegal assault weapon. There's an amusing bit after their encounter with the dog where Kosmo bandages Joe while Joe admits that the incident is the first time he ever used his gun. The two seem surprisingly amiable with each other, considering their bitter past history. We hear nothing yet about how or when Kosmo got back into Homicide, or what happened with her house or how Joe got promoted/demoted to being her partner or how things ended with Kurtz. But viewers from last season will still get a chuckle out of the karmic payback in Joe's dogbite.
Across town, Chick and Lou (the Body Pickup guy from earlier seasons who became a coroner's assistant last season) discover a skeleton. It's lovely to see Chick back and I like Lou. I like his working here with Chick and I hope he won't disappear the way he did after the first episode last season. Lou links the first skeleton to another one found five years before and hands the case over to Mick. Mick identifies the remains as two missing rent boys from the early 1990s and has a disturbing conversation over beers with a Brit vice cop about them. "Does that say what I think it says?" he asks, while looking at the cop's notes. "Oh, yeah," the guy replies. "There's more."
Meanwhile, Da Vinci struggles to mediate between the police/local community and a group of homeless activists led by a dour and annoying Charles Martin Smith. He clashes again with Bill over the activists and also over Bill's demanding more personnel when Da Vinci demands more police on the street. This, of course, causes Bill and Charlie to plot busily against him, since they have no intention of actually working with him. Bill is not even remotely happy to have Da Vinci over him. But Charlie has the most trouble, finding it impossible to defer to Da Vinci. The episode ends with Da Vinci discussing a controversial plan to solve the manpower problem by cross-training the Police and the Fire Departments with Julia Forsythe the city administrator. She barely appears before this last scene, but she comes across as one of the most interesting new characters, sly and cooperative. She'll make a very important ally for Da Vinci in the coming weeks, I bet. "Why has nobody ever tried this before?" he asks her about the cross-training plan. "We never had a mayor with a death wish before," she replies.
Another interesting new character is a businessman, Lloyd Manning, who accuses the campaign manager for the previous two mayors of taking a bribe for a contract with the racetrack. When the campaign manager kills himself (off screen), this puts Da Vinci in a very awkward position, even though he wasn't responsible for either the bribe or the death. It gets more awkward when he finds himself sympathizing with the businessman against the major corporation that offered the bribe and won the contract. Will he take them on in favor of clean hands and local interests or will he play the politician and sweep the incident under the carpet? And underneath it all, one can't help wondering if the campaign manager really did kill himself.
The rest of the new characters are very flat, at least in comparison to the old reliables, who definitely have lives--and agendas--of their own. Not that those of us who've been watching all along will mind one bit. Though Da Vinci's new handlers may have second and third billing after Da Vinci, they don't really have an existence yet outside of their roles as Da Vinci's eyes, ears and (sometimes) mouthpieces. I doubt many will be shocked to hear that the true second-billed character in terms of actual story and life independent of Da Vinci is Mick Leary. As usual, Mick gets the darkest grace notes in the episode. Most of what we see of him here involves him adjusting to his new role in his usual deadpan way. As with Kosmo and Joe, much is left unsaid, especially whether he's still living on his boat, what his current state of mind is and how things are now between him and Kosmo. But the further you get into the episode, watching him roaming the streets in his new, but still baggy and mismatched, suit, the more you realize that underneath his new role, Mick is still Mick and the skeletons in his overloaded closet remain all-too-fresh.
Case in point--it's only his first day as coroner and already, Mick has latched on to a nasty, vicious cold case involving the two dead aboriginal boys, who were apparently being exploited by a rich and powerful paedophile and his friends before they disappeared. Mick is calm and professional about the case, having low-key conversations with Lou and Chick as he worms his way further into it. But alert viewers may remember a conversation he had with Kosmo early last season about a childhood pal whose paedophile father groomed his son's friends using the family rec room as a lure. Child deaths have always bothered Mick and the way he winces when he stares at the photos of the two boys after identifying them indicates that personal demons are involved. You can see that Mick is wasting no time diving down yet another rabbit hole into yet another dark and twisted case, hell-bent on justice for yet two more victims who don't excite enough of society's sympathy.
It's tough to see how much fun Da Vinci is having yet (though Nick Campbell appears to be having a ball). He gets challenged a lot in this first hour, not in ostentatious, American-style ways, but by people who expect him to fulfill his campaign promises now, not later. But even though he's been thrown in the deep end with the sharks, he's sure paddling with enthusiasm. Yup. This one's a keeper.
Next week: Cat in a Tree, Lunatic in the Street.
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This page was last updated on 10/26/2005Return to episode guide