If there was ever a movie that didn't need a spinoff TV show, 'Crash' would be it. Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 2006, 'Crash' told a racially charged tale of interweaving lives in Los Angeles. Whether I think it deserved to win for Best Picture is beside the point. The truth of the matter is that 'Crash' was such an emotionally depressing movie I never wished to see it again, let alone tune in to an entire TV series based on its premise.
Starz is trying to get in on the act of original programming in order to catch up to other premium channels like Showtime and HBO, which have a strangle hold when it comes to premium channel ratings. Picking up 'Crash' is a baby step in the right direction for Starz, but they'll need to find something more entertaining and captivating to carry them to the top of the heap.
The headliner in the series is Dennis Hopper as a narcissistic music producer named Ben, who, when we first meet him, is sitting in his limo, talking to his crotch in a semi-Shakespearean manner. It's creepy to say the least. His driver, an attractive young lady, stops the car and jumps out. I would too. As a matter of fact I wanted to bail on the entire show right then and there, but I kept on going.
Other storylines involve: Anthony, Ben's newly hired driver, who Ben hopes to use to get back to the top of his music empire, which is now overseen by his daughter. Axel, an undercover cop, who's working deep undercover in the Korean mafia. Eddie, a former gang member turned EMT who has troubles when his old life comes back to haunt him. A beat cop named Kenny, who is on some sort of power trip and soon finds himself pursuing a young Latina woman he crashed into while driving his squad car. These are just some of the stories, half a dozen more weave in and out as well.
'Crash' the TV series follows the same formula as the movie. An eclectic bunch of characters, all of different ethnicities, have some type of beef with individuals of other ethnicities. 'Crash' does do a decent job developing their characters as the season progresses, but that only matters if you really care about them.
The problem with 'Crash' is that it does nothing in the first four or five episodes to really grab your attention, and there's way too much of Dennis Hopper being an unlikeable moron. After that, the characters and their story arcs tend to start to come together and make more sense, but when a TV show doesn't grab you within the first few episodes, for most people it's time to move on.
While it does tackle some deep emotional and moral issues, they're nothing that weren't dealt with in the movie. We're just treading old ground, but now it's spread out over a 13 episode season.
'Crash' features a 1080p/AVC MPEG 4 transfer. Much of the grain from the film stock is kept in tact here, but it doesn't veer into the realm of distraction like other TV shows that were originally filmed the same way have. Blacks switch back and forth between deep black and a markedly brighter shades, making delineation a beast at some points. Fine detail is well done here, except for a few instances in which faces don't seem as detailed as they should be. 'Crash' also has a few problems with blocking and noticeable edge enhancement here and there. There are times within the show where the frame will go unusually blurry except for one specific part on the screen, usually a person. This isn't a defect in the transfer though, rather it's an artistic decision to draw the viewer's eye so don’t worry about that. 'Crash' sits in the middle of the road as far as transfers go, not amazing, but not cruddy either.
'Crash' loses points for not giving us a lossless audio track, instead a run-of-the-mill 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is included. What a bummer! Sound effect directionality is the worst offender here. While it doesn't happen often, sounds like close-up sirens or other noises in that should be located in the front of the sound field find themselves wandering into the surround channels, making it feel like they're somewhere around us instead of in front. The music track however is well represented and adds a bit of deep LFE rumblings. Dialogue is presented clearly, which is of primary importance in a talkative drama like this one. Just like the video presentation, 'Crash' finds itself with a mediocre audio arrangement too.
I understand 'Crash' has its fans and I respect that. I can see how the gritty feel could attract viewers, but for the most part I just can't get behind the show. It’s too predictable and it's just touching upon the same stuff the movie covered. If you're a fan you may still want to add this to your collection disregarding the middle-of-the-road video and audio. In the end though I just can't recommend this for non-fans. TV shows require quite an investment of time and energy, so they must meet high expectations or get tossed aside for something better. Personally, I'm not going to devote anymore time to this show. Most of you will probably want to skip it.