Written by: Rebecca Rodriguez
The summer of 2008 will go down in the history books as the summer of post-strike recovery. While viewers are eagerly awaiting the return of interrupted story lines and character arcs, they can still keep their DVD players functioning with a bevy of newly released series collections. The brightest firecracker since Fourth of July is Warner Bros release of Fastlane.
Created by McG (Charlie’s Angels) and John McNamara (TV’s The Fugitive), there is only one word to describe this series: slick. The series drips with the sort of gloss McG has become known for. High octane car chases matched with zippier dialogue mixed in with McG’s penchant for split screens and slow motion effects and you can see where current television darling Chuck gets its pedigree from.
Peter Facinelli (Twilight) and Bill Bellamy (Last Comic Standing) pair up as Donovan “Van” Ray and Deaqon “Deaq” Hayes, a modern Tubbs and Crockett, but with far better hardware at their disposal. Tiffani Thiessen (Saved by the Bell) plays their hard ass boss, Wilhelmina “Billie” Chambers, who has the keys to an armory of repossessed goodies called the Candy Store and a lust for all things Steve McQueen. In the second episode, she acquires his original Shelby Mustang from Bullit. “You can still smell the cigarette smoke,” she purrs. Much to her chagrin, Van and Deaq wreck the car a mere 30 seconds later while in pursuit of rogue jewel thieves on crotch rockets.
The rest of the series proceeds in single self-contained stories which follow a distinct formula: the guys are sent undercover to take down one nefarious crime lord or another, they rendezvous with several scantily clad ladies at an outrageous party, receive intel from insider Aquarius, played by local Los Angeles personality Big Boy, and manage to blow up at least one vehicle in the process. And all in just under 60 minutes.
If memory serves correctly, the series really found its groove towards the middle. A multi-episode story arc is introduced; some of Billie’s questionable past is revealed; and the season finale is left in a cliff-hanger.
Promptly thereafter, the show was cancelled.
Fortunately, that’s why the good Lord invented DVD extras. Unfortunately, these DVD extras don’t explain squat in terms of that story line. Overall, the special features are pretty standard. Scenes cut from the pilot are wrapped by interviews from McG himself and writer Stephanie Savage (The O.C. and Gossip Girl). Surprisingly, McG is not an amped up, tatted out rockstar producer, but a quite unassuming bespectacled red head. What I found particularly interesting is that he maintains that initially he was fully prepared to make Fastlane as a movie, rather than a television show. Later on, he stresses the importance of bringing big screen action to the small screen. I feel like this is an accurate description of what is in store for the viewer during every episode. The remaining extras (all found on the Disc 6) detail the cars, the action sequences, the outtakes and the cast.
The only thing I found seriously lacking from this DVD series that its infamous ‘80s predecessor had is a significant soundtrack. I seem to recall the theme song being an original by Snoop Dogg, which I have tried many a time to download though to no avail. The title song included in the DVD is a poor substitute that some poor music editor banged out on Garageband. A lot of the background music is vaguely familiar, yet generic enough to leave one with the conclusion that Warner Bros was too cheap to spring for music rights.
My recommendation? Buy the series because it deserves a higher quality resolution than any shitty version you could download and put it on mute in the background of the next raging party you throw at your posh house in the Hollywood Hills. Who knows? The boys just might roll up to bust you.