Backstrom: Is Fox's Newest Antihero a Case Worth Cracking?

“I don’t see the worst in everyone. I see the everyone in everyone.”

For Detective Lt. Everett Backstrom, that’s all the justification he needs to act the way he does — that is, crass, blunt and totally rude.

In Fox’s new cop drama — created by Bones‘ Hart Hanson and based on a set of novels by Swedish criminologist Leif G.W. Persson — The Office‘s Rainn Wilson stars as the titular detective, who is admittedly excellent at his job.

He’s just not so great at the “people skills” thing.

Rounding out Backstrom’s police squad are Sgt. John Almond (24‘s Dennis Haysbert), Detective Nicole Gravely (Genevieve Angelson, House of Lies), Sgt. Peter Niedermayer (Kris Polaha, Life Unexpected) and Officer Frank Moto (Page Kennedy, Weeds) — all of whom recognize that Backstrom is a deeply flawed human who sees the glass as half-empty, but they respect his tactics nonetheless.

It’s hard not to, given that Backstrom is able to piece together the homicide of a senator’s son in the premiere episode. He picks up on the details that others overlook, and it sure does help that he’s not afraid to make a few people cry in the process.

In fact, Backstrom can most easily be described as the detective version of Dr. House. He’s even got his own set of health issues (an enlarged heart, among other maladies) and his own vices that help him cope (alcohol and cigars instead of Vicodin). Sure, he’s The World’s Biggest Pessimist who can’t bear to eat broccoli — but he’s great at what he does. Which makes it OK, I guess…?

That’s for you to decide. Grade the premiere episode of Backstrom in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Uhhh says:

    One of the worst things I’ve ever watched. Offensive, badly acted, stupid dialogue. How did this get on-air? And Dennis Haysbert?! I’m so disappointed in you!

    • Anthony says:

      Oh boo hoo. Ignorant little baby got offended? Here’s your pacifier.

    • S. says:

      It was difficult to sit through, and I feel like I got an exposition enema from time to time. I dunno that I blame the writers. I’ve been keeping up with Backstrom for awhile it feels like. This show started with CBS and ended up at Fox. I remember because I was disappointed that they weren’t gonna get picked up, then relieved when it happened elsewhere. The fact that they had 2 different networks weighing in couldn’t have been good. We all know they think we’re stupid and need to have things spelled out about characters, cramming things into the pilot rather than letting us figure them out later. I dunno that I can blame the people involved in making the show. They’re pretty talented and Rainn Wilson’s definitely someone I enjoy watching. Maybe the next episodes will work. This one was a hot mess. I’m debating whether to try again. Usually when it’s this bad, I don’t. Really on the fence.

      • herman1959 says:

        I blame the writers for having us sit through a 2-hour pilot jammed into a 1-hour long timeslot. It seemed like we got a smidgen of EVERY character’s backstory, but not enough to really understand them or fully explain why they were brought together. I got the idea that every person working on the unit had been somewhere else and was now trying to prove something, but it all went by so fast, I’m not sure. There is so much to pick through here, but I won’t be doing so because (unbelievably) Fox has this series scheduled opposite Scandal AND The Blacklist…why??? I graded it a C (definitely on a curve).

    • steve says:

      I agree.

  2. linda says:

    Totally thought of house too. And the Co stars reminded me a bit of house too.

  3. madbengalsfan85 says:

    I enjoyed it…not in love with it, but I’ll be back next week

  4. auntiemm says:

    I turned it off at the :40 mark. The character was like watching a House/Goren (L&O CI) mashup and not in a good way. The supporting cast was meh. This show’s a pass for me.

  5. I enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because i’m snarky & cynical and kind of an a-hole at times so I could relate I guess.

  6. Tran says:

    I give Backstrom a C. Hope this one won’t last that long but it doesn’t bode well in a competitive time slot – Thursdays at 9 p.m. along with Scandal, Blacklist and Reign.

  7. tahina says:

    A poor House rip off.

  8. mattypdx503 says:

    I guess I don’t watch enough network tv to know what’s good and what’s not. Because I think this show is great.

  9. rowan77 says:

    I can’t give it an A. Too much jammed into the hour and the “I’m a…” thing got old by the fourth time he did it. Tons of exposition where they could have shown us instead of told us. But I love Rainn Wilson and Dennis Haysbert so I’m willing to give it a few viewings before I make any decision. Lets see if the show evens out.

    • Patrick says:

      Ditto. I reserve an “A” rating for really great shows. A show can be good, and entertaining, without getting an “A” rating. I enjoyed the show. It was a likeable Dwight from the office, which for me was when the show was at its best. I get really turned off by “superman” characters that are always right, and always treat everyone around them horribly, without realizing their own flaws or poor behavior. Further, I liked the supporting characters, and I will definitely be back next week.

  10. Reader17 says:

    Really liked it. Some comments said it was like House, but I didn’t see it. This guy seems to be a reluctant ’empathizing’ genius who thinks it fun to catch murderers. House loved pushing his genius in everyone’s face, solving mysteries for the challenge of it. Lots of excellent actors here. I look forward to seeing them develop, especially Dennis Haysbert and of course Rainn.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I like the character of Detective Lt. Everett Backstrom. It lite hearted and to the point. Just had the opportunity to be watch some detective go about their work and this come close to how they actually solve cases; not the CSI or Quincy method.

    I will be watching the on a regular basics from now on.

  12. I’d called it House Detective or some variation thereof but that would be an insult to House as the character was actually more appealing. While it is nice to see characters with flaws of course and some legit ones really didn’t find anyone that appealing in spite of them all.

  13. lkh says:

    I guess it could be like House with extremely poor hygiene! Kinda disjointed too, lots of dysfunction going on there, who are we supposed to attach ourselves to in this group? Let alone that I kept waiting for the head cop to begin an insurance ad. I don’t think I’ll revisit it-the dialogue wasn’t really that clever, the story, meh and I feel like I need a shower. I don’t need another dose of folks showing me I can’t rely on the police to be ethical.

  14. ninamags says:

    So is the totally adorable Valentine his son or not?

    I couldn’t understand if he is. It’s interesting enough to record it next week.

    • smartysenior says:

      They said “stepson” when they were talking so I guess this will be a backstory someday about a failed marriage? I liked this show and plan to watch to get everybody’s backstory since I thought they set up a whole bunch of interesting characters to explore. I also like the non-PC aspects of it, it’s refreshing to see him blurt out whatever he wants. And not care. I’m just sarcastic enough to appreciate that kind of attitude.

  15. Isobel says:

    I rated a C, not terrible but there are better shows to watch

  16. Jeremy says:

    Not good. In fact HORRIBLE! What a waste of an hour.

  17. eva says:

    Soooo, another obnoxious protagonist, who thinks if being smarter than everyone else in the room makes it ok for him to act like a jackass? Has there been a more overused trope in the recent TV history? I don’t think so…

  18. LynnH says:

    I really enjoyed it. Maybe I’m drawn to dysfunction, I don’t know. But to me, it was weird and intetesting and I’ll be checking out next week’s episode. BTW, how awesome is it to have Dennis Haysbert back on TV?

  19. A Semi-Fan says:

    Liked the show and would watch but it is up against Blacklist and I love Red. Will watch until Blacklist comes back or when it isn’t on. Sorry Backstrom. :(

  20. Falsk Konto says:

    I’m on the fence if I’ll be back for episode 2. It took the second attempt to watch it on the DVR to make it through for the first time…this show has an uphill climb if it’s going to play sloppy seconds to “House”. Where Hugh Laurie has a background in comedy, and brought that to the character, Rainn Wilson seems to just fall flat and Backstrom doesn’t have the charm. With the exception of Dennis Haysbert the supporting cast feels stiff, and there to affirm Backstrom’s observations instead of challenging him. In retrospect, this show is just House 2.0 and Fox is probably feeling pretty desperate that they have nothing to fill the Bones slot when that show finishes it’s run in the next year or two.

  21. Michael says:

    Loved it. Of course I loved Rake and Terriers and they got canceled.

  22. Yo says:

    This show was a desperate attempt to be edgy, and it ended up not being edgy, just kind of foul-mouthed.

  23. Stormy says:

    Not good and that’s throwing roses at it. I turned it off at .25. There was nothing to hold onto, not the cast, not the writing. It was like Wilson was doing a very bad Walter Matthau impression. There was little wit and even less likability. Pass.

  24. Morgan Blue says:

    I think that the show was well written. The characters peaked my interest. I think that the ensemble worked well together. Rainn Wilson is terrific. This show didn’t remind me of House at all but echoed the excellent ensemble acting and writing of the show, “Monk.” I will definitely watch from now on. Thank you for setting the bar higher.

  25. KC says:

    Terrible, Offensive.

  26. Todd says:

    I thought it was OK but the “I’m a…” got very old very fast to the point it was annoying. I’ll give it another shot.

  27. Paula says:

    Everyone wants to be House.

  28. TinLV says:

    Didn’t hold my interest, I found myself doing other things while it was on and barely keeping up with the plot. Lead character not likable. Rainn Wilson has never really been a favorite of mine anyway. I like the female partner, how about killing off Backstrom and give her a show ?

  29. Anonymous says:

    I love Backstrom Fox new real like cop show. Finally a cop show that comes close to how detective in real life act. It suppose to a comedy; but if are on the force you know that Backstrom is a lot more lile real detectives act then CSI or the numerous detective TV shows!

  30. Heathers says:

    I liked it. I’ve never seen an episode of House- I have no interest in medical dramas after having been in and out of hospitals for numerous surgeries to watch a hospital comedy or drama. If you were offended by Backstrom, then get your P.C. ass outta here!

  31. Joann says:

    I’ll watch it until Grey’s Anatomy comes back. I won’t go out of my way to watch it.

  32. CK says:

    I’ll give it a C. I liked mostly everything except the main character. I’m completely fine with “non-PC”/racist/misogynist characters and dialogue if they serve a purpose. I’m not going to blink while watching Empire when Luscious says something homophobic or SoA/The Knick if a racial slur is spouted, because they further the series and it’s completely natural to the characters. Backstrom , on the other hand, seems to be doing for the sake of just putting people off and trying to be edgy. Maybe they’ll expand on the character in upcoming episodes and create some background as to why he is that way and make it will serve some purpose, but right now, “He’s a white male” is pretty much the only reason were given to why he’s saying what he’s saying.

  33. steve says:

    Worst show I have seen in a long time. Not anywhere near Fox standards. I could not watch it was so bad. Quit after 15 minutes.

  34. Cobra says:

    Much better than the completely overrated “The Blacklist.:

    • Steve says:

      I do not like the Blacklist either. NBC has a bad track record on drama series. Fox usually makes great dramas. Bones is fantastic. Gotham is a good new series. Sleepy Hollow has done well. Both very dark and edgy. Backstrom just does not have any redeeming value. Bad acting, incoherent dialog and just irritating.

  35. Marc Rodgers says:

    Brilliant show. Great writers. Very imaginative

  36. The fellows says:

    this show is a revelation! Wilson plays a combination of Vincent Dinofrio, Mandy Patinkin and Bynes it up with the character Denzel played in that movie with the upside down airplane. I love that this show affectionately includes the LGBT community and I really hope Sarah chalk gets a recurring role. I only hope the show is not too smart because then it will go off the air because all the dumb Dumbs won’t like it….

  37. Ja Jung says:

    Watched an episode. Will never watch another one ever. Waste of time. Bad premise of a series. The Show tried to do a House but got a basement full of poorly written scenes. There’s so many shows that merit a following, Backstrom isn’t in the top 100.

    Cable/TV drama upped its game with some tremendous series. Backstrom went backward several levels. A series about a character who spouts demeaning words to get a reaction is old, especially if the character has no redeeming qualities – not a genius, not a hero, just a chubby guy who has job that he doesn’t deserve and abusing it.

    The series should be off the air soon.