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FASTLANE
The Complete Series

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Peter Facinelli, Bill Bellamy, Tiffani Thiessen
Creators: McG, John McNamara
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 965 Minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2008
 

“I know you didn't just throw my desert eagle out the window.”

Shows ***

As clichéd as it may seem, the buddy cop formula is something that has been missing from television as of late. Mainly because the shows that apply this formula don’t seem to last anywhere beyond one season. Such was the case with Fastlane, which debuted in the fall of 2002 and despite something of a cult fan base was axed only after one full season.

I caught snippets of the show during its run on the air (if I’m not mistaken it preceded 24) and from what I saw what it was going for. It looked like a show that was trying to be nothing more than a guilty pleasure buddy cop show. Having now seen all the episodes in their entirety, I can confirm two things; the show is the guiltiest of pleasures to ever grace the television screen, and I wished this rush of adrenaline lasted at least a few more seasons.

One of the creators of the show is McG, who at this point was known for hyper-kinetic action and visual style he brought to his Charlie’s Angels movie. That same style is alive and well in Fastlane, which can best be described as Miami Vice if Crockett and Tubbs resided in L.A. and got on each other’s nerves on an hourly basis.

The series follows the undercover escapades of LA cops Van Ray (Peter Facinelli) and Deaqon Hayes (Bill Bellamy). In the show’s pilot, their paths cross through unexpected circumstances. Ray’s partner is gunned down by a vicious drug deal. Ray approaches his slain partner’s brother, Deaqon, to help nail the killer.

Their initial takedown is a success, and as a result the two are recruited to do undercover work for an under the radar operation headed up by Lt. Billie Chambers (Tiffani Thiessen). This secret unit runs out of a warehouse called the Candy Store. Basically, Ray and Hayes get to acquire police-confiscated vehicles, clothes and weapons while undercover, which is why the Candy Store is the absolute perfect name for this warehouse.

So, in a nutshell, Fastlane represents every adolescent boy’s fantasy. You get to fight crime through making the best use of high speed cars and top of the line weapons, and your boss is none other than the super hot Tiffani Thiessen. Where do I sign up? Honestly, if Ms. Thiessen was my boss I’d get all too distracted and wouldn’t be able to focus as she detailed my latest assignment.

Two particular episodes help to further convey that this show was made for guys. One episode has Ms. Thiessen’s character going undercover as a lesbian to nab two female thieves. The other has her going undercover as a porn star. It’s as if I were writing the show myself.

Being an action fueled buddy cop show with an intense dose of humor, it goes without saying that Fastlane requires a huge suspension of disbelief. The action is always over-the-top, with the bad guys never being able to hit their targets successfully. And the show has a frequent technique of fast motion followed immediately by slow motion, mostly in the action sequences. In fact, it becomes so absurd that you become convinced that the characters have the power to move in slow motion just so they can shoot their targets dead on.

It may have lasted only one season, but there’s a reason Fastlane made it to DVD. It has a devoted fan base, and the show has a guilty pleasure appeal that you simply don’t find in many TV shows today. Action-packed, super stylish and ultra cool, this is one series that deserves to be rediscovered!

Video ***

Presented in its original full screen TV presentation, this Warner release does excel in its red-hot visual style. You can practically feel the burn from the L.A. sun. There is some occasional grain, but that tends to find its way into most TV shows on the format and it rarely distracts. All in all, the picture quality is mostly sharp and clear as can be.

Audio ***1/2

It may be only a 2.0 surround mix, but something about this show seems to have made the sound quality a bit more larger than life. Each episode is highlighted by music score composed of both hard rock and hip-hop sounds. The action sequences are also quite phenomenal in sound quality. Dialogue delivery is terrifically clear, as well.

Features ***

I feared this show would get the ax on the extras, but this six-disc set from Warner does happen to include some nice retrospective material, which keeps the memory of this show alive. Included are four well made feautrettes; “Hot Stuff: Inside the Candy Store - Evolution of a Series”, “Stunning Rides: Muscle Machines and Kit Cars”, “Smoking Stars: The Cast” and “Sizzling Action: Stunts and Chases”. Also featured are outtakes/bloopers, as well as unaired and extended footage from the pilot episode.

Summary:

Guns, cars and Tiffani Thiessen…what’s not to like? Fastlane is as fun a TV show as one could ask for. It contains the same level of thrills and spills as your basic big-budget action flick. And did I mention that Tiffani Thiessen is in it?

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