Yup, you read that right. I am reviewing the first and final season of ABC’s crime show, Deception, because it has been canceled prematurely. I’ve mentioned the show a couple times in my posts or on social media, so you probably already know that I enjoyed this show. I am not happy with ABC’s decision to cancel it without giving it another chance because it’s a promising show, but I’ll talk more about that later. The show indeed is enjoyable but not without faults so I will cover everything I liked and didn’t like in the review ahead!
The first thing that came to mind while watching the show was its striking similarity to CBS’s The Mentalist, which was a crime show with a consultant that I enjoyed a lot. However, Deception has its own perks and stands out from most of the other crime shows with consultants in these ways:
- He’s not an obnoxious sleazeball – Hey, I love Patrick Jane (The Mentalist), Shawn Spencer (Psych), and all the other irksome consultants, but it’s refreshing that Cameron Black, the magician-turned-consultant of Deception, is actually a decent, likable guy. He’s sweet, reasonable, caring, and obliging. He’s not fooling around obnoxiously or manipulating his partner. He has a child-like charm and gets along with everyone else on the team. He doesn’t brood (he leaves his twin Jonathon to do that).
- He’s not the sole consultant – Although he’s the typical consultant on the show, he is actually backed by a whole team: his magician team of assistants who helped him with the tech and deception for his magic shows. So he’s not actually a consultant but an outsourced team the FBI brings in for help (the Deception team). This is also refreshing because he has his own little group of companions he’s close to–he’s not just this outsider forced into a rigid police system. They have good chemistry (although there can be more done for them, I think).
- It’s not so much about the who – Crime shows are all about finding out who did this or that, usually in regards to murder. However, this gets pretty dry and old really fast. I’ve become adept at figuring out the who early on in these shows from watching them so much, so that part has lost its flavor with me. Luckily, this show isn’t so much about the who as the how to actually catch the guy.
- There wasn’t some revenge plot – Okay, this isn’t for every crime show. For example, Psych and Castle don’t bring on the consultants because they desperately need revenge or anything, but Monk and The Mentalist do. I enjoyed the lack of angst regarding some revenge for a wife or daughter who’s been brutally murdered. Cameron Black did have another purpose for joining the FBI: he wants to release his twin brother Jonathon from false imprisonment. This is a refreshing purpose that’s different but almost as grave as the “SOMEONE KILLED MY FAMILY” trope.
- Both detectives are actually nice and cooperative – There are some good dynamic and teamwork in other shows. The Mentalist and Monk in general had good teamwork, but usually there will still be some clashing, authority issues, or a detective who can’t stand the consultant (Lassie, I’m looking at you). In Deception, both detectives are very nice and cooperative. They do not try to fight or argue with the consultant. Rather, they work quite harmoniously together.
- Female lead has control and is easygoing – Kay is the beautiful FBI agent that works with Cameron, but she actually has control of the situation, unlike Lisbon of The Mentalist or Juliet of Psych who usually is either tricked, charmed, or ignored by their male consultant. It could help that Cameron’s a legit nice and friendly guy (re: point one), but it’s great to see her actually respected. She’s also easygoing rather than the typical rigid, no-nonsense detective we often see the consultant trying to convince into bending the rules. However… she and her relationship with Cameron are not without faults which moves me onto…
The things I didn’t like about the show! I’ve really been kind of frustrated by the love lines and development of romances in the TV shows nowadays. You already read my dislike of the Lucifer-Chloe romance forced into the (also cancelled) show on my last TV review. I liked that this was mostly lacking in Deception so we could focus on the more important things, but in the last two or three episodes, the love line between Kay and Cameron is so suddenly and forcefully squeezed in that I was rolling my eyes and groaning, “Et tu Deception?”
Here’s the thing… or couple of things. Cameron is so child-like and Kay is so mature that it seems like a schoolboy crush on his schoolteacher at first. To be fair, I saw more chemistry when they started diving into the love line, but then the writers ruined it by making it seem like the two have super strong feelings for each other… after, what, eleven cases together? And no signs of their inclinations beforehand? Cameron is acquaintance-level friendly at most and usually concerned about his brother during the series, so his suddenly liking her with so much earnestness, while more believable than the vice versa, still seems forced. At best, it seems like he’s growing a crush, which usually happens when you befriend someone you’re attracted to. As for the vice versa, it was really weird for me that the friendly-but-dispassionate Kay seems to… actually return his feelings?
It bothered me how she goes from calm, cool, and collected to… pulling a Chloe Decker (from Lucifer) where she turns into a weepy damsel of a CW drama before Cameron. This is such a change in character with little to no warning. Are there no female writers or directors on this show? Also, I think she tells him near the end she wants to be more than an FBI agent to him. At first, I thought this was a confession of love, but that’s extreme, right? So maybe she wants to be a trusted friend to him. Either way, the girl is teary and practically begging him to open up to her, and I was not having it.
This was the detective who is pretty nonchalant, let me tell you, about her partner getting suspended. She is just so matter-of-fact about this, even though they seemed to have worked closely together for a while, but no, Cameron’s about to leave so her heart is breaking and she regresses into a hormonal teen. Also I had no idea what her losing her sister in the past has to do with her possibly losing Cam. How are those two relationships remotely alike? Her sister was a close family member whom she grew up with and who died. Cam is a co-worker she’s worked with for… maybe a couple of months? And he’s just leaving. I could see how she might use that to show compassion toward Cam and Jonny’s circumstance, but she’s not even doing that. She legit says, “I lost my sister and don’t want to lose you, too,” or something to that end.
Going off that and point #4 in the list above, what was with that ending? The Jonathon turnaround was odd. Mind you I haven’t yet read about what was supposed to happen in the second season as revealed by the show’s creator. This, on top of it just taking too long, further suggests the show won’t be picked up after all. Back to the point, I think Jonny’s action at the end doesn’t signify his betrayal so much as his planning to get the Mystery Woman his own way because Cameron’s methods have been failing. This might be me giving him the benefit of the doubt, but it feels fairly transparent to me because we know he is incredibly close to his twin despite the tension placed between them by their father and other circumstances.
As a matter of fact, I really liked the beginning when Jonathon acts super angsty toward Cameron, but Cameron knows he’s just being dramatic and playing around. This was such a great plot twist. It promised no typical angst, family drama, and the tragic figure, but if in the end, Jonathon does turn at gorgeous Mystery Woman’s suggestions, that is just too angsty and it comes from left field. The show drops subtle hints throughout that Jonathon could be turned (which makes him sound like… he’s now a vampire, but you know what I mean). They were, however, not altogether convincing and relatively contrived.
Okay, I just had to get all that off my chest. Back to the good stuff! Jack Cutmore-Scott does an excellent job at playing the twin brothers Cameron and Jonathon. Something with his hair and eyebrows perfects the transformation, but he also does a good job of giving the two different airs in mannerisms. Cameron’s eyebrows are always up and his face is open. Jonathon’s eyebrows are always down in a serious grimace, he is more smirky, his hair is greased back, his voice is deeper, and he seems darker overall. I was amused, however, by the two love lines for both men because I knew the twins were played by one person so I kept thinking of Jack Cutmore-Scott’s busy on-screen love life. Opposite him, I thought the charismatic Ilfenesh Hadera was a bit stiff and lacked expression as Kay, but this suits her character–until the awkward love scenes.
Onto the most important part: the magic. Cameron Black is a disgraced magician, and he uses his skills in this area to the FBI’s advantage. He uses tricks, cunning, and… deception (cue credits) to catch the bad guy (also, it’s not always homicide, which is another refreshing area of this crime show since all the others are always like DEATH, POISON, MURDERRR). These tricks, and the footage revealing how they were pulled after the fact, are excellent! The show does a great job at keeping you in suspense and awe. Sure, you might think it all a bit improbable, but hey, it’s fun.
The magic and levity are what sets the show apart from The Mentalist, despite the great similarities (schemes, tricks, father issues, use of Black Neely for the amazing soundtrack). However, apparently, the show was cancelled because it’s too much like ABC’s Castle? Or people were protesting the likeness, anyway. I don’t see the similarity at all. I only watched bits of Castle, to be fair, and sure, both leads have boyish charms, but Castle is a sleazy (but lovable, of course) playboy and novelist. He has creative ways of analyzing the situation, but Cam employs dramatic schemes to catch the bad guy. Also, let’s be real, crime shows with consultants are all alike–I don’t know what makes Castle stand out so much in any such comparison with Deception. I still say this show is more like The Mentalist.
In my opinion, I think ABC cancelled Deception to make room for another crime show with a consultant which is actually made by the creator of the successful Castle. It’s called Take Two, and while refreshing for the role reversal (male detective and female consultant), looks absolutely terrible. How is an actress who fell from fame as compelling a consultant as a magician? Prepare for the “steamy love lines” because the preview already shows the male detective topless with chiseled abs and Rachel Bilson being incredibly quirky. It honest-to-goodness looks ridiculous and cheesy, and ABC should have kept Deception in its stead. (Also, I like Nathan Fillion, but his new ABC show The Rookie doesn’t look too good, either.)
I am sad that Deception was cancelled and remains cancelled. Now what new show will I watch? What will replace the hole left by all the other concluded consultant crime shows I used to watch?
Reviewing the flaws of this show, perhaps in the long-run the cancellation was for the best, but I still think it had a lot of potential and should have been given at least a second season.
How sad are you that Deception is no more? I’m also changing the star system to a 10-point system for a better range.