The consultant procedural, a subgenre sorely missed in the TV landscape, has made a welcome return with The CW’s latest series, Wild Cards. From Richard Castle to Lucifer Morningstar, the most entertaining TV detectives have often been unconventional partners to by-the-book cops rather than traditional detectives. Wild Cards, featuring Vanessa Morgan from Riverdale and Giacomo Gianniotti from Grey’s Anatomy, introduces us to the collaborative efforts of Max, a thief with a penchant for rule-breaking, and Ellis, a demoted detective eager for reinstatement.
Despite not reaching the heights of its predecessors, Wild Cards delivers an enjoyable experience, buoyed by the palpable chemistry between its charismatic leads. Max, borrowing elements from characters like Psych’s Shawn Spencer and White Collar’s Neal Caffrey, is an outgoing and cheeky thief with a refreshing twist—the woman in the duo plays the role of the unconventional outsider. Unlike the typical strict female officer in the genre, Max’s rule-breaking and bold approach inject joyfulness into the central female character, compelling her strict male partner to loosen up.
Vanessa Morgan’s standout performance as Max brings fearlessness, humor, and charm to the series, overshadowing occasional clunkiness in the dialogue. While Wild Cards may not match the intelligence and smoothness of its inspirations, it exhibits potential, leaning into predictable beats with self-awareness and admiration for procedural conventions. Rather than focusing on serious investigations, the series prioritizes watchability and a breezy viewing experience.
However, Wild Cards struggles with occasional cringe-worthy dialogue attempts to connect with younger audiences, falling short compared to the wit of shows like Psych and Castle. Despite this weakness, the series offers a fun and weightless experience, particularly for those yearning for the breezy, easy-viewing shows of networks like USA and The CW. Though not groundbreaking, Wild Cards has the potential to run for seasons, building upon its formula and improving with time. It may not garner awards or accolades for groundbreaking storytelling, but it stands as a series with the potential to endure and evolve, providing viewers with an enjoyable escape.