Mike Olshansky
Created by David Koepp

"Could we just leave my soul out of this... for once?"
Mike tells Grizz to back off
in "Domestic Disturbance"

Set the angst-meter running.

In Hack, possibly the most intense new drama of the Fall 2002 TV season, David Morse stars as MIKE OLSHANSKY, a disgraced ex-cop from Philadelphia ("I took a bullet in the shoulder for this city.") turned cabbie who "seeks redemption by fighting for and righting the wrongs of others." Once a decorated police detective, Mike is caught taking eight thousand dollars from a crime scene. Rather than rat out his partner, Marcellus Washington (Andre Braugher), Mike stands mute, and takes his licks. It costs him his job, his marriage and, most hurtful of all, the love of his son, who now views his dad, not as a hero, but a loser.

Frustrated, hurt, at times seething with rage and prone to violence, Mike turns to his new life as a cabbie, working long shifts, living on coffee and eye drops.In the first episode, Mike rescues one of his passengers from a severe beating by a gang of thugs, and helps another track down his missing daughter. The realization that he can still make a difference and help people comes as a revelation to Mike, and offers him away out of his hell. He enlists the aid of Marcellus, who feels obliged to his former partner for keeping silent, and thereby saving his own police career. In return, Mike helps him by doing the work a cop can't do. Mike's also aided, albeit sometimes reluctantly, by Father Tom "Grizz" Grzelak, a drinking buddy and friend. Meanwhile, on the homefront, Mike tries to win back his ex-wife, Heather, and son, Michael.

Yeah, there might be plausibility problems eventually with this one, but it could be a swell ride in the mean time. Forget about atoning for his sins --that's something that should be a subtle context that's buried deep beneath the action, an underlying theme the creators shouldn't pick up and examine too much -- just let it be, and trust the viewers to pick up on it (and the excellent cast to play it that way). What Morse's character should be is just a cabbie, scrounging for a living, taking odd P.I. jobs and occasionally helping out people, but always with the notion there might be something in it for him. And keep it dark. The milieu of a late night cabbie is rife with possibilities, what with the sort of people a night hack deals with: hookers, drunks, loners, strippers, other cabbies, couples out celebrating, the lost, the lonely, etc... in fact, there's often an almost surrealistic tone to the show reminiscent at times of such classic film noir as Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.

This could be an intense, almost noirish version of the old sitcom Taxi or a kick-ass update of Steve Midnight, the old pulp series by John K. Butler. The talent involved certainly is up to the task -- so far, this has to be the best-looking shows I've seen this year, the direction was razor-sharp, and Morse and Braugher are two of the most compelling actors around.

We'll see...

FURTHER EVIDENCE

UNDER OATH

TELEVISION

Preliminary report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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