How "Rizzoli & Isles" Could Be A Better Boston Show

Since “Rizzoli & Isles” premiered earlier this year on TNT, I've been looking for people to join me in skewering the program. Certainly I'm not the only nerd who's been flagging flaws in the local nuances, many of which slipped through the cracks since they filmed this alleged Hub drama on a sound stage. I haven't found too many fellow critics yet, though, so if you're out there please join the conversation.

Some of the Boston touches are spot on, like featuring Donnie Wahlberg and Cape Verdean gangs, and referencing the BPD's Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC). Nonetheless, I'm a touch concerned that the writers are reaching too hard for Boston clichés, which they're in danger of exhausting. Since the show was just okayed for another season, and with the final 2010 episode coming next week, I thought it was a good time to lend pointers as to how the show's producers can beef up the realness.

Just be yourselves...

I commend “Rizzoli & Isles” directors for not overdoing the regional accent. While a lot of Boston cops definitely fudge tough brogues to be cool – particularly those who grew up on the north and south shores – it's not like everyone around here sports a hard-edged dialect. It might, however, be prudent to add just one over-the-top A-dropping ruffian, and to crank it up for scenes in which the cops deal with white kids from Southie or Charlestown. But the characters are believable enough – particularly Angie Harmon, who makes for a phenomenal Boston Italian badass.

Get to know your neighbors...

This appears to be improving, but for the first few weeks there seemed to be some confusion about what stereotypes apply to which Boston neighborhoods. In one episode, when detectives walk into a sweet crib in West Roxbury, Rizzoli says to her black colleague: “You're not in South Boston anymore Dorothy.” This doesn't make sense for a few reasons: Southie, too, has some seriously nice homes, while, whether it's politically correct or not, Roxbury would have worked a lot better considering the circumstances.

Sweat the small stuff...

Keep getting the minutiae right, and Boston will ride with you. I especially appreciate the dumpsters that look like Waste Management containers, but say “Wicked Clean.” Well done. Your Boston Dispatch looks an awful lot like the Globe, so you might want to bring a Herald-esque tabloid into the picture, and kudos on recognizing how every t-shirt around here interpolates the Red Sox logo. Finally; while I think using “Shipping up to Boston” as a theme song was a bit too easy, it's nonetheless effective, and definitely a good look for the local music scene.

Rip from current headlines...

“Law & Order” is the best crime drama ever – not just because it spins mega events into episodes, but because writers follow some of the more interesting smaller crime stories that don't make the white-focused nightly news. Hopefully “Rizzoli & Isles” will soon branch out, as the first season already covered virtually every obvious historical Hub headlines besides the Big Dig, from the Boston Marathon and Boston Strangler to the Winter Hill Gang and a Mayflower descendent.

Keep making us look bad...

In one episode, there appears to be a skate park underneath what appears to be a bridge. Here in real Boston, we have such a project on the Charles River, but it's been stalled for a decade, and maybe if the rest of the country thinks it exists we'll be forced to expedite. Here are some other things we would appreciate your lobbying for: citywide wireless internet; Don Chiofaro's massive development on the Rose Kennedy Greenway; bars that are open past three o'clock; and trains that run until those bars close.

Also to keep in mind...

There aren't all that many black men in BPD leadership positions, nor is headquarters a nice nostalgic building, but rather a replica of the police bunker in Robocop. Also: it's not likely that someone would live across the street from State Street (and if they do they're probably Chinese); people here don't talk about Paul Revere all that much, though it does seem to be a common theme as of late. And lastly – try shooting a few scenes in Boston. We have a whole cottage film industry here and everything.

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