Reason | Nov 26, 2020 | 0
Fall Premiere Season Ends in a Bored Whimper with Devils
Devils. The CW. Wednesday, October 7, 8 p.m.
Here are some things to know about Devils, The CW’s new imported drama. First, this is not McDreamy’s return to American television. Patrick Dempsey, the dream boy of an entire female generation for more than a decade on Grey’s Anatomy, is not the star of Devils, no matter many hacky bloggers reprint press releases to the contrary. His role can barely be called supporting.
Second, even if Dempsey’s character were bigger, he’s not the kind, caring, compassionate McDreamy who haunts the Hallmarkish dreams of a now-menopausal flock of female TV viewers but a cold, ruthless McSonuvabitch. “You don’t really care for anyone,” one woman accuses him. “It’s beyond your grasp.”
And third, this dreary discussion of the fate of a decade-gone-by matinee idol tells you everything you need to know about Devils, which is that it’s such a thorough-going bore that there’s nothing else about it to say.
The last scripted show to premiere in 2020’s coronavirus-blighted fall broadcast season, Devils was supposed to be quite a catch for The CW. Italian-made but shot in English, with two high-hormonal male draws (Alessandro Borghi of Netflix’s Suburra is the other), it had already been battle-tested on European TV. Supposedly, The CW had to win a bloody bidding war to come up with the American rights.
If so, it was a surely the stupidest war since Italy was wracked by a civil war over a stolen bucket 700 years ago, and believe me, the bucket was more fun to watch than Devils.
Devils is billed as a financial thriller. When American producers say that, it usually means a few cryptic lines of hedge-fund jargon, followed by a lot of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, and finally, the cops. When Europeans say it, it means endless discussion of currency fluctuations among the Euro, the yuan, and the yen. A movie about the banking rules for Monopoly would have been more scintillating, or at least more comprehensible.
Not that Devils doesn’t include a few murders and rapes and stuff among its plot points. Borghi plays Massimo Ruggero, a currency-trading shark who makes hundreds of millions of dollars for his investment bank (headed by Dominic Morgan, Dempsey’s character) by basically tying the weaker national economies of Europe to railroad tracks.
But when Ruggero doesn’t get a promotion he wants, he sets in motion a scandal that results in the suicide of a rival, then prepares to ruin his own bank through stock manipulation. And then—was that suicide really a murder? And if so, who committed it?
This sounds kind of interesting, if not exactly morally suasive. And maybe it would be, if Devils had a single character who wasn’t carved from wood, or if its dialogue consisted of more than shouts of “Short! Cover! Float!” Villainy can be fun—just remember Al Swearengen in Deadwood or Alexis Carrington in Dynasty—but it’s got to be lively.
Hard bodies and blank expressions may mix well in porn, but they don’t make for effective melodrama. With Devils, the fall season ends not with a bang but a surly grunt.
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