Editor’s Note: We have all enjoyed reading Mr. Grant’s work, so I wanted to make sure I said thank you to him. Thank you.
The alleged TV drama on ABC and Hulu, Will Trent, is based on Karen Slaughter’s series of novels. Frankly, I have not read any of Ms. Slaughter’s novels, but I would hope that they are better than the first episode of Will Trent.
Will Trent takes place in my former hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. The eponymous protagonist is an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
In the show, Trent always wears three-piece suits. He suffers from dyslexia but claims to have extraordinary powers of observation, and apparently does. Granted, that is an interesting premise for a television series, but somewhere between the opening credits of the first episode and the first commercial break, I was already put off by the star of the show, played by Ramon Rodriguez. Moreover, the show’s supporting cast is about as captivating as Marv Throneberry, Roger Craig, and the ‘62 Mets, who finished last in the National League, 60 ½ games out of first place.
Now, I will say this right up front – on my very best day, your humble reporter has never been as handsome as Ramon Rodriguez. But how could ABC put this guy in front of a camera in a woolen three-piece suit that does not fit?
For a cop show – and I consider myself something of an aficionado of the cop-spy-private detective genre – this one is not very good. In the hands of the BBC, it might just be an interesting project, but under the wandering eye of ABC, it is nothing more than a hackneyed, trivial, predictable, implausible imitation. It is as if the writers and producers made a list of all the Southern cracker stereotypes and cliches, and then checked them off one by one as the show progressed.
Secondly, during my entire fifteen-year tenure in Atlanta, the number of days that I needed a woolen three-piece suit would probably be about the number of statues in the state of Georgia dedicated to William Tecumseh Sherman. Even in January and February, afternoon temperatures are mostly in the 50’s and 60’s – and even 70’s are not out of the ordinary.
Even if you can buy into the three-piece suit thing, why did ABC not outfit Mr. Rodriguez in some clothes that fit? After all, he is the star of the show, for crying out loud. You can see his belt peeking out from under his vests (above).
Moreover, our hero wears shirts with little, tiny collars and ties with huge Windsor knots. (Sorry, this is a particular pet peeve of mine.) And there is always a gap above the knot of his tie.
Not only that – the handsome Mr. Rodriguez always needs a shave. I know, I know, that scruffy look is somewhat fashionable these days, but give me a break. It would not hurt the guy to get out of bed fifteen minutes earlier and scrape the whiskers off his face. I say, “Either shave or grow a beard, but don’t walk around with two or three-days growth of stubble.”
Whoever was responsible for the show’s costumery should check out some of the original “Bond, James Bond” movies from the 1960’s starring Sean Connery. In those films, Connery’s Bond could wrestle in the dirt with three big thugs for ten minutes, get up, dust himself off, and escort a beautiful lady out to a Michelin three-star restaurant or a Monte Carlo casino.
Now, I am sure some of the readers of this forum will disagree with my assessment of the show and Agent Trent’s assault on sartorial convention. They will say, “Picky, picky.” Fair enough, but when a major television network invests lots of time, money, and effort in the production of a TV series, they should do a little homework and attend to the details. And if they are going to do a show about Georgia, they should get some input from some folks who actually live in the South, instead of New York and California.
If you plan to watch Will Trent, do not let this critique stand in your way. I have watched a slew of bad TV shows in my time. But, be forewarned – SPOILER ALERT – The Wire and Hill Street Blues it ain’t! It’s more like In the Heat of the Night meets Andy, Opie, Barney, Gomer, and Aunt Bee.
James H. Grant
Great article, and I too have enjoyed reading these pieces from James. This is sloppy costuming to say the least.. one minor quibble with the headline is that it doesn’t sound the show lost its way, it sounds like it was sloppy right out of the gate!
Does sound like the show lost it’s way I mean!
Doesn’t! I am sloppy too it seems. lol – wish we could edit comments!
Chris – just MANAGING comments is a full time job. We delete the word Viagra 1,000 times a day.
I’m four-in-hand all the way, but people with the right panache can definitely pull off the big Windsor knot, provided the proportions with the collar and lapels (not to mention the cut of the suit) are in balance. Despite the fact that we’ve (at long last) swung back to non-skinny fits, the low-rise suit trouser phenomenon hasn’t fully gone away, even if it leaves shirt peeking out from under the waistcoat. I don’t think people are aware that that’s not supposed to happen. Maybe part of this detective character’s quirk is that he’s sartorially trapped in 2010.
Ramblings: The quirky detective trope. Columbo, Monk, Barney Miller, Riggs (Lethal Weapon), Starsky and Hutch, etc. Fun, but worn out. Barney Miller gets a pass, funny as can be. Hill Street, it’s spin-offs, and Streets of SF were more serious. The Five-0 guys wore suits. I seem to recall a three-piece here and there. I don’t know what to think about Baretta. The Kojak style was authentically icky.
Agreed, a three-piece suit in Atlanta wouldn’t work. Maybe this is supposed to evoke Matlock? And agreed, the post-adolescent beard look grows tiresome. (See what I did there?)
A brief image search reveals no three-piece suits on Hawaii Five-O.
An image search of Mission: Impossible 1966-1973 shows a rapid evolution/degradation of style during the period, and no button-down collars as far as I can see. I would assume there were BDs worn occasionally during the earlier years.
They should do a show that goes against type by putting their TV detectives in the clothes currently worn by real detectives. That would be polo shirts, tight fitting, stretchy pants, and black tactical boots. Their pants tend to have a high rise, which I guess is to make it easier to sit without the gun holster on their belt getting in the way.
Didn’t Dirty Harry wear tweeds and BDs?
Hey Mac: Yeah, but his ties left a lot to be desired. He should have gone to Cable Car Clothiers and picked up a few regimentals, or better still, he could have contacted me, and I would have sent him a few from my inactive rack. James H. Grant
So you were able to see he wanted a shave, well most shows today are so dark they seem to be lit with 3 watt bulbs and then you can’t hear them with the muffled sound track and the actors mumbling their lines through closed mouths.
Terry: I do not know about the 3-watt bulbs, but the sound, like you say, is muffled and apparently the actors have forgotten that they are supposed to articulate. I am getting on up in years and have one hearing aid, but I have a hard time following the dialog on most shows. But my REAL pet peeve is when they go to commercials and the sound goes up about 20 decibels and the loud music just about causes me to jump out of my skin. Ridiculous. Hang in there! James H. Grant
Apparently, no one has watched the show. I expected to get taken behind the woodshed for my ‘picky’ comments, but no one seems to care. Actually, the fact that no one has seen this alleged cop drama is encouraging. Ivy Style’s readership is obviously more discerning and has better ways to spend their time than to waste it on Will Trent. James H. Grant