Hightown

Executive Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, Lucifer, Without a Trace, Cold Case) has a new crime drama, this time set in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Hightown nods to the partying and addictions associated with this coastal resort town.

The action kicks off with murder during a drug drop, which is witnessed by Krista (Crystal Lake Evans) who is suddenly in fear for her life.

The body washes up on the beach where it is found by National Marine Fisheries Service agent Jackie Quiñones (Monica Raymund). Jackie is also a gay party girl who has plenty of one night stand with tourists in this “gay Shangri-la”.

She’s strong enough to hold her own with the middle aged white dudes, who want to know, “Do you ever get tired of all that f***in’ p***y?” (answer: no).

But Jackie also drinks too much and finds herself heading to rehab.

At the same time there’s also Detective Ray (James Badge Dale) who is convinced the murder is the work of imprisoned drug lord Frankie (Amaury Nolasco), who still wields power on the outside. He starts getting close to Frankie’s girlfriend Renee (Riley Voelkel) which will doubtless rain down on him later in the tale.

Between the murder, sex and recovery, Hightown takes a glum, blue-collar approach to its mystery, with queer characters bringing added colour. Monica Raymund is sexy and confident as the promiscuous ‘fish cop’ who stumbles onto a murder, while James Badge Dale as Detective Ray could hold his own in any number of TV procedurals, if without much we haven’t seen before.

Director Rachel Morrison gives Rebecca Cutter’s adult script an indie-feel, with plenty of hand-held cameras and location work. Produced for Starz in the US it’s definitely ‘less-network’ than previous Bruckheimer outings. The coastal setting with its Cape Cod homes and stripper bars adds to the backdrop.

But ultimately this is a slow burn without establishing enough empathy. The lesbian perspective is its most unique contribution, and Jackie is a flawed enough heroine to carry this off. But in a crowded genre Hightown needs more in the tank to cut through.

Hightown begins today on Stan.

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