Chief constable Bill Hixon (Lowe) moves from Miami sunshine to the dark, grey, Brexit-y streets of Boston, Lincolnshire. He's hired by the British government to reduce crime by 10% and sack 600 officers in the department – leaving behind his troubled past and taking his teenage daughter (Aloreia Spencer) with him.
Bill Hixon (Rob Lowe) moves from Miami sunshine to the grey streets of Boston
There’s not nearly enough fun with the concept. Part of the series’ appeal is the classic desire to watch optimistic Americans being torn down by cynical Brits – dealing with dollops of rudeness, bad moods and sarcasm. Bill is tough, likeable, tech-savvy and he's a loving, though intrusive, father.
But his annoyance and confusion at the change of environment isn't funny enough, and the expected clash of American vs British personalities is regrettably absent. And aside from a few funny quibbles about the War for Independence as well as a recurring Texas-style hat, the laughs are spare.
The characters are never boring, especially DC Yeardsley (Bronwyn James, left)
Worse is the show's darkness, which throws the tone into a wobbly state. Bill heads an investigation (way below the pay grade of a chief constable) and makes a few brutal discoveries – most notably a severed head.
It’s sudden, serious, and plunged in a horror-movie bleakness that doesn’t fit with the initial humour. Writers Dudi Appleton and Jim Keeble, formerly from Silent Witness, emphasise the scary elements over a decent introduction of Bill’s character. His situation feels sped up, giving more time to a cliched plot involving alleged murder, drug dealers and Russian gangsters.
It’s an entertaining fantasy, but one that gets sillier and sillier – reaching its nadir on a CGI wind turbine.
Wild Bill could’ve been an all-out comedy, but doesn’t take advantage of its strengths. There’s some fun in its absurdity and the characters are never boring – especially DC Yeardsley (Bronwyn James), Bill’s only friend on the force – but it’s not sure of its direction. Having an American star on British telly is strange enough, but being a lukewarm series on top of that? That's even weirder.
Wild Bill airs Wednesdays at 9pm on ITV
|What||Wild Bill, ITV review|
12 Jun 19 – 12 Jun 20, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM