The end of 17th Precinct

Posted by CB Droege

I was pretty excited to hear about 17th Precinct when it was announced. Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer, and James Callis (all from Battlestar Galactica) reunited under producer Ronald Moore for a police procedural set in a world of magic. 

That’s about all we knew at the time, but just the cast alone was enough reason to at least watch the pilot, which many got to do recently.

The pilot for the show, which did not get picked up by NBC - seemingly in favor of Grimm - the only network it was pitched to, showed up on Vimeo Thursday night.

Presumably a leak of some kind, it only remained until about 4pm on Friday before being taken down. It was clearly not meant to be shown to the public, as it was a screener for NBC executives, complete with a timer on the top of the screen, and "Property of..." text flashing up for several frames every few minutes.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to watch 17th Precinct before the nascent pilot disappeared, and it was certainly a show I would have been interested in seeing more of. When I first heard about it, I figured it would be about a secret magical world, more like Grimm, which would explain why the shows would not coexist well, but that’s not it at all.

The entire world of the show is a magical one. Everyone takes magic for granted the way we take electricity for granted in the real world. Machines are powered by plants, rather than batteries, and psychic connections to ‘the stream’ are in place of computers and internet. 

Buildings and cars look pretty much the same as our world (they’d have to if the show was to be affordable), but modified to add plants and magical runes and such. Some of it is comically ridiculous, like certain people never even having heard the word ‘science’ before, but much of it was really cool, and felt like the magic was truly being used as part of the narrative, rather than as a gimmick or device. The two cases that the characters ran up against in this episode had elements in them which were magical, rather than just mundane aspects with goofy name and visual changes, like some magical fantasy.

The concept was really cool, and while the execution could use a little polish, I would definetly have been in for at least giving it a season's chance.

Bamber, Helfer, and Callis all give great performances, but the rest of the cast left a bit to be desired, though it was no more than one might expect from a pilot. The actors don’t have their dynamic down quite yet. Of course, now they may never get the chance, as it doesn’t seem like the show is being shopped around to any other networks. Frankly, I would rather have seen this one get picked up instead of Grimm if it really was a decision between the two - but I honestlt don’t see why it needed to be either or. After seeing the pilot, the two shows are clearly dissimilar. They could have made room in the schedule by dropping The Playboy Club.

I hope this leak generates some buzz about the show. I’d love to see Moore spurred to pitch the show to another market. It would fit well, for example, on Syfy if they could find the budget for it.

As of now, I haven’t been able to locate a new source for you to actually see the pilot, but if one shows up, I’ll post it here.