So if, now that “the Wire” is over, you’re thirsting for a real journalism TV series, you can watch the complete “Deadline” over on Hulu.com.
“Deadline,” starring an epically proportioned Oliver Platt as a columnist at a NY tabloid, was a Dick Wolf affair that lasted on NBC for, oh, i don’t know, four or five weeks in the fall of 2000 before being canceled. For reasons I don’t recall the network dumped the remainder of the season, a couple of episodes at a time, the following Spring. It’s never been out on DVD.
It was no “Wire”; it was no “West Wing.” I said it was a Dick Wolf production. But it had its charms.
Platt was based on a Breslin template but is given a plummy Upper East Side background (the digs, too) and a tendency toward nastiness. Each episode found him in a moral quandary over one of his crusades, intermittently helped along by a “House”-style band of reporter-assistants. There’s always a couple of good twists and fairly (I didn’t say “entirely”) reasonable journalistic knots to untie as well.
The cast was pretty elevated: Platt; Hope Davis as an editor and his ex-wife, with whom he has a messy relationship; Lili Taylor as the gossip columnist; Tom Conti as the top editor; and Bebe Neuwirth as Platt’s editor. While no one involved had the stomach to accurately portray what goes on a paper like the Post, the producers made do metaphorically by just having most of the paper’s staffersâ€”reporters and editorsâ€”follow a “boff first, ask questions later” policy with potential story subjects.
And Platt’s allowed to be Platt, and not always nice. In one early episode he’s implicated in a murder. We don’t realistically think he’s guilty, but within the confines of the show some of his colleagues actually think he might have beaten a woman to death. I guess that’s why it got canceled.