Michael Olshansky is a cabbie, the likes of which you only see in old movies. Played by David Morse, he of the perpetual hangdog expression, "O" (any similarities to the high school Othello are purely accidental) is a canned Philly cop with a penchant for helping passengers in trouble. This irritates his Chechnyan dispatcher because he'll frequently cruise all night and not bring in any fares; he irritates his ex-cop partner Marcellus Washington (Andre Braugher, who radiates more intelligence than the rest of the cast combined - but if he's so smart, what is he doing here?) because he plays fast 'n' loose with his former street training. Face, the guy's just irritating.
Hack is the creation of screenwriter David (Jurassic Park II, Spider-Man) Koepp, and if you're familiar with the man's movie work, you know what to expect: characters who act one way to meet the demands of plot, then switch in a different direction just to surprise the viewer. Last night's ep concerned a woman fleeing her allegedly abusive police-husband with her daughter. Our hero, empathizing with the woman but also putting himself in the position of the max-stressed cop, is torn. First he helps the woman find shelter, and then he tries to turn her into his ex-partner. When the woman flees the state with her daughter, he pursues her in his cab, desperate to keep her from being slapped with a kidnapping charge.
The whole time, we're not supposed to be sure who is telling the truth in this marriage, and after a while we stop caring. What would've passed for one of four stories in a night of N.Y.P.D. Blue has been stretched into tedium. More than once we see our hero just stand there and admit that he doesn't know what to do next. (Quick! Somebody else do something to get the plot moving!) He's reactive, but when you need a street-smart quasi-vigilante, who needs reactive? More concerned with his own failings as a disgraced cop and divorced father, "O" can barely keep his mind on the task at hand. The guy's just too self-absorbed and mopey - which plays to Morse's strengths as an actor but hardly makes for a compelling series lead. One night of Hack, and I found myself wishing Ed Woodward's take-charge Equalizer was still in business.
Back to watching John Doe . . .