What? 9mm: São Paulo is Fox first effective investment into producing a Brazilian tv show. Their previous attempt should not named, as it’s somewhat close to relation of what “Joey” (the show, not the character) meant for the fans of “Friends”. It’s basically a police procedural drama set in South America largest city São Paulo
There’s is commitment to produce a total of 13 episodes for its first season, which are still under production, 4 of which will be shown this month, at first as testing ground for how it might perform, as the show will also be shown by Fox other affiliated through Latin America. It’s not the first investment from international companies to produce local content. The last few years we’ve seen HBO produce some successful mini series and Sony after some failed attempts into the world of variety show, found in spinning Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model”, into “Brazilian Next Top Model”, a successful product from the land that is homeland for a 1/3 of “Victoria’s Secret” Top Models and some of the highest paid model in the world.
What does 9mm: São Paulo remind me of? When I saw the first tv spots I thought it would be just another Jerry Bruckheimer-ish CSI rip off. Yes the characters come out from the same archetypes the ones we have in the CSI’s shows, but the result is somewhat different.
In my opinion, the US show that it resembles the most is actually the short lived, but excellent Tim Minear’s “The Inside”, which did happen to be another Fox production. If I had to describe the show for a friend I’d call it a mix of “The Inside” with “NYPD: Blue”, with a touch of CSI.
The show in a nutshell(mildly spoilerific). 9mm: São Paulo it’s an hour-long crime drama, that tells the story of a homicide unit in the largest city in Brazil, as they take on violent cases from dangerous regions of the city. What happens when law and crime might actually walk hand by hand. The team is lead by Eduardo, a young detective in a career fast-track, partly due to his close relationships to a congressman, who might become his father-in-law. Horacio is veteran investigator of the team, with a shady past and a very grey approach toward the cases. Tavares is a 38-year-old newbie, who’s just out of the police academy, and tend to have a very black-&-white view of the world. Luísa, is the only woman in the team, who is a single mom and had her daughter when she was only 15, she has to juggle her constantly busy professional life, while raising a teenage daughter and dealing with an uncooperative ex-husband. 3P is the hotshot youngest member of the team, who can be impulsive and very naive.
This first episode titled Aqui Se Faz, Aqui Se Paga, (Here you sow, Here you pay) have the team investigating two murders, that ends up having a common point in the figure of a talent manager who gives”managing talents”a deeper meaning, and also he has some past relation to Horacio, which leads to its surprising final scene. As the several characters repeat among themselves, they were just doing their job.
What Works? I really liked the casting, it’s clear through the pilot episode that we have a strong main cast, and some supporting cast played by some known actors. I really loved the fact that the team leader is a black man, and they play well into introducing each of the team players and their personal lives and it’s amazing how imperfect they all are. The show pacing is uneven, it get better on the second half, when the cases become one. The use of the “shaky cam”, emulating the reality of a documentary, works well in most scenes, especially in action scene when we have chases or confrontation between characters. I loved the fact that they set the show in São Paulo, not just because I lived here for most of my life (or for the fact that we share a lifelong rivalry with Rio), but it does give a setting of Brazil as urban world, not just “Football”, “Half-naked woman”, “Beaches” or “Coffee”. The dysfunctional characters and their rich backgrounds does show a lot of promise, and make me curious for what we’ll see in the next episodes. They also had some pretty transition scenes effect, it reminded me of a mix of “Angel”, “Woman’s Murder Club” and “CSI: New York”.
What doesn’t work? The shaky cam works well for most of the narrative, but it seemed overused, especially in more intimate scenes, which instead of making the viewer a discreet eavesdropper of a personal conversation, just makes you think that it was being filmed by an overactive operator. I’m all for making it imperfect, however It was getting so distracting on some moments from the first half of the episode, that made me want to scream at the screen for it. Maybe I’m just too spoiled by writers who can pen amazing dialogs, but some of the dialogs in the show were just bad, it made me cringe and feel bad for the actors who were delivering them and were doing their best with the material given. They didn’t play much the team dynamics as a whole, but I expect it will change in the next episodes.
The Bottom Line… as such an ambitious first experiment, for how promising it looks, despite the few laws, It should be considered close to success, and very bright future for other fiction products from local writers and producers. I will surely check the next 3 episodes that they’ll show this month.
PS. I should remember to credit Brian Ford Sullivan, from The Futon Critic, as somewhat the inspiration for this review’s structure.
PPS. In case you didn’t notice, if you click on the picture above, it’s linked to the show official Site.