Without Matt Passmore as a cocky Chicago cop in Florida, The Glades would be pretty pedestrian. But it's possibly the best thing he has done.
A number of American reviews for The Glades have drawn parallels between Simon Baker and Matt Passmore in his lead role in this A&E Network drama.
Let’s be clear: they are both aussie actors playing Americans in crime procedurals, and they’re both pretty convincing. That’s about where the parallels end.
Whilst Baker’s Mentalist role is steeped in quiet observation, Passmore (Underbelly, McLeod’s Daughters, The Cut) is a cocky cop from Chicago. He talks so fast and drops the wisecracks that he probably has about 50% more lines to memorise.
In The Glades he plays Det. Jim Longworth, a homicide detective from Chicago who relocates to Florida after being wrongfully accused of having sex with his former captain’s wife (none of this backstory is dramatised in the Pilot).
But when a headless torso is found floating in a gator-infested swamp by two hot kids who were making out in their car, Longworth gets his first assignment. We meet him when he is playing a relaxing round of golf, interrupted by the call to investigate. Bad day to be on the green.
Longworth likes to work alone, dressed in little more than a t-shirt and jeans. While he consults regularly with a Latino forensic pathologist (Carlos Gomez), he is a lone wolf, preferring to piece together clues with a mix of experience, hunch and bravado. Why didn’t they make him a Private Eye?
Most of the minor players here, who are clearly hired just for the weekly crime, take a back seat to Passmore. It’s very possibly the best thing he has done.
Complementing the procedural crime, which isn’t really engaging enough as for a first episode, is Longworth’s pursuit of attractive nurse and single mom Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez). It comprises the majority of his personal interest but there are hints of deeper issues linked to his exodus in Chicago. These could possibly further a bigger arc across the series.
The Florida backdrop, already a key feature of crime shows including Dexter, Burn Notice and of course Miami Vice, will lend itself well to stories of drug cartels, alligators, beaches, swamps, seniors, hotels, partying, illegal immigrants and more.
So far it doesn’t boast the style of Burn Notice nor the plotting of Dexter and without Passmore it would border on pedestrian.
But Passmore is confident in the role and eminently likeable. He even has the Chicago accent down pat. Already approved for a second season, there’s every reason to think he may yet make something of this series which should ultimately work as a summer diversion.
The Glades premieres 8.30pm Sunday December 5th on W.