There’s only one reason why I made it my business to tune into the premiere of The Inside last week, a new moody and atmospheric drama on Fox about an FBI special crimes unit.
Minear, a writer and producer who emerged from Joss Whedon’s unparalleled television universe (Angel, Firefly), has emerged as one of the key players to watch on the TV scene. After the critically heralded Wonderfalls was cancelled following a short run last year, Minear is now bringing his uniquely edgy and comically attuned vision to the police procedural.
Since I don’t watch very many “cop shows” (FX’s The Shield being the big exception) I was a little leery after watching the first several minutes of the premiere episode of The Inside. A dead body turns up, and a bunch of cops (or in this case, Feds) show up to investigate the scene. “How many times have I seen this?” I thought, as my highly sensitive and easily activated Boredom Alert System pinged from blue (neutral) to yellow (alert).
But as with Angel — which proved to be much more than just another “vampire show” and in some ways surpassed the brilliant and groundbreaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer — The Inside builds upon a great ensemble cast, sharp dialogue, and off-beat pacing to slowly, surely, and inevitably snare the viewer into what can only be described as a revelatory experience: watching something on television that you haven’t seen before.
The Inside also establishes a downbeat, almost noir tone that sets the stage for what appears to be a show about federal agents who go after serial killers. It’s the emphasis on character, however – particularly the glimpse into a mysterious abyss of questions surrounding several of the main players – that made the show worth watching and will keep me coming back throughout the summer.