While not exactly groundbreaking, it took an interesting approach to the crime drama genre and introduced a different type of hero. One that’s softly spoken and not yet fed up with the world.
We review the Peacock series The Calling season 1, which does not contain any major spoilers.
David E. Kelley’s newest police procedural drama just landed on Peacock, and it centers around Detective Avraham Avraham (or Avi) (Jeff Wilbusch), a deeply religious NYPD detective, as he solves horrific murder cases. The series is based on the Avraham book series by Dror A. Mishani. While the novels are set in Israel, Kelley brought the story’s narrative to New York. The protagonist’s sidekicks include newcomer to the precinct, Janine Harris (Juliana Canfield), fellow detective and in-house comic relief provider Earl Malzone (Michael Mosley), and the tough but kindhearted Captain Kathleen Davies (Karen Robinson).
There’s no shortage of police procedural dramas on television and streaming platforms. One might say the genre has been done to death. Yet The Calling sets itself apart by centering on a different type of hero. Detective Avraham isn’t your typical hero cop who’s seen too much horror in his life and starts already jaded. Instead, this public servant has the deepest respect for humanity and approaches investigations with the compassion his Jewish faith taught him. He has a way of speaking to his suspects that eventually encourages them to bare their souls. Sure, this leads to them incriminating themselves and going to prison, but Avi’s ability to get those confessions out of them is nothing short of impressive.
From the first scenes, we catch a glimpse into Avi’s unusual methods. He prays in Hebrew over victims’ bodies, he has an uncanny way of knowing when someone isn’t giving him the full story, he’s deeply invested in his religion, and he draws fish. The series never truly explains the significance of the fish, but Avi seems to reach a breakthrough in the case whenever he draws, to his Captain’s exasperation.
The series also gives the two main supporting characters a certain depth we don’t often see in crime dramas. Gradually learning more about Janine’s upbringing and Earl’s history with Avi makes them feel more like real people and less like super-crime solvers. Sadly, Captain Kathleen gets a different portrayal. She seems to be more of a walking cliche than a fully-rounded individual.
In terms of format, Peacock’s The Calling takes the unusual approach of only solving three cases during the season instead of focusing on one per episode or one for the whole run. The first four episodes have Avi and the team looking into a teenager’s disappearance, while in the second half, we see the detective trying to find out who attempted to bomb a daycare and what happened to a mother-of-two who vanished without a trace. In the course of the investigation, the show makes pretty good use of red herrings, leaving the viewer guessing up until the big reveal. I found all the cases compelling, and the series did a good job of showcasing its central theme of “everyone is guilty of something.” The Calling had three interesting stories to tell and told them in a way that seemed respectful to both the fictional victims and those they left behind.
Overall, The Calling is worth a watch. While not exactly groundbreaking, it took an interesting approach to the crime drama genre and introduced a different type of hero. One that’s softly spoken and not yet fed up with the world. The cliffhanger at the end of the season was intriguing enough to warrant a sequel.
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