October 1, 2014, 9:00 pm, CBS
From the writer of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream and The Vampire Diaries, you’d expect his latest TV series to be suitably terrifying. In that respect, Stalker doesn’t disappoint.
Laying on the jumps and girlish cries aplenty, Kevin Williamson has created a show that will tap into your fears and shock you into sleepless nights. In the first two minutes we meet a woman coming home from work who is accosted by a masked assailant, doused in petrol and set on fire, left to be burned alive. It’s essentially a detective drama with added torture-porn; gratuitous images of horror and gore followed up by real-life facts (such as, “Six million people are stalked each year in the United States”) to terrify the audience.
One of the show’s flaws is that it’s packed with clichéd characters - the arrogant new detective transferring from the NYPD (Dylan McDermott) who’s partnered with a bossy, sexy LAPD lieutenant (Maggie Q) who refuses his advances (but clearly will be seduced three episodes in). Nothing surprises in the pilot and the audience can bet that nothing will surprise them later on.
One of the worst things about the show is the blatantly misogynistic dialogue. Detective Larson tells Lieutenant Davies that he was staring at her breasts because she was “wearing a silk blouse, hint of a bra, red fingernail polish” and “I took the male leap that it was meant to be.”
Williamson infers that women who dress provocatively invite harassment, and in turn, stalking. He might as well spell it out when he shows Detective Davies returning from work, undressing and showering, and then bolting her windows and staring at her door - should every women worry about stalkers? Are we all future victims? Nikita‘s Maggie Q could do a lot better. It’s the voyeuristic style of the show that leaves a bad taste behind.
There also seems to be no respect for the male characters. Detective Larson has no decipherable redeeming features. He’s narcissistic and sleazy, makes lewd comments to his coworkers and bad jokes to his boss. For all we know, he might turn out to be a stalker in a later episode.
Most disappointingly, perhaps, is the lack of any insight into the psychology of stalking. What could have made the show more interesting would have been the use of some real cases or information on what might fuel obsessive behavior. Instead what we’re given is a story so Hollywood that it approaches the ridiculous - a porn star-turned-gym instructor preying on ladies in his spin class. Who makes this up?
Williamson has come out and said “I enjoy scaring people,” which is no surprise given he wrote all fourScream movies. However, he’s also said that he was inspired to write Stalker after his own experience being followed and obsessed by after the second Scream film in ’97. You would think that would make the episode more realistic, but there’s no trace of realism here.
To be honest, if you thought Scream 4 was a Very Good Film, then you’ll probably be willing to give this a watch, but beware that the only thing disturbing about Stalker is how bad it is.
You don’t have to confirm with Rotten Tomatoes to know this show is rotten. It’s not unwatchable, but it’s definitely painful.
The only thing disturbing about Stalker is how bad it is.