The Company You Keep (1)

Milo Ventimiglia’s ABC Show Is a Winner

If you thought Milo Ventimiglia was charming as a PTSD dad with a drinking problem on “It’s us,” wait until you see him on ABC’s “The Company You Keep.” He stars in the new drama as Charlie Nicoletti, a crook with a heart of gold, a guy born into a family of criminals who stage elaborate heists to rob the wealthy. The Nicolettis are the kind of thieves you can easily fall for, and that’s exactly what happens when Emma Hill (Catherine Haena Kim) crosses paths with Charlie. They both jokingly tell the truth about their professions. He’s a criminal, she’s CIA, but haha ​​just kidding, he runs a bar and she works for a logistics company. Their chemistry is immediate and they quickly drift apart for a weekend of hotel room shenanigans. Neither knows the truth about the other, but viewers quickly learn that Emma is after the same organized crime family that Charlie and his family just swindled out of millions of dollars, and their interests will soon be very close. related.

Sounds like an old school set up for a procedural network in the best way. Two beautiful and charming people fall in love without knowing that each has a big secret, and a big job to do every week. It’s not that they will/won’t, because they’ve done it before and continue to do it, but there’s a ticking time bomb in the background. Who will find out the truth first? And will they still have a crush on each other once the secrets are out? It’s sad that this premise is almost exciting in 2023, but perhaps television, like fashion, is cyclical. Everything that is old will become new again.

And it’s not like everything in “The Company You Keep” feels old. The magic is that there are so many things that feel new, like Emma’s powerful family. She’s sort of the black sheep of a budding political dynasty, a family that describes itself as the Asian American Kennedys. His brother David (Tim Chiou) is a senator running for re-election, occupying the same seat their father Joseph (James Saito) once held. Their mother Grace (Freda Foh Shen) has big plans for the family and for her daughter, if Emma would let her make those plans. “The Company You Keep” doesn’t reinvent any wheels, but it manages to be a good mix of classic television and a very fun modern perspective.

Of the two episodes released ahead of time, the second is stronger and paints a better picture of what the series could look like. The pilot has a lot of work to do in a short time, and it ends up feeling a bit confusing. Episode two finds an easier pace and has the chance to show off some of what the show promises. A heist gone wrong in the pilot sends the Nicolettis in pursuit of a quick payday and ends up forcing Charlie’s father, Leo (William Fichtner), to play the character of a flamboyant photographer looking for a luxury house for a photo shoot. These downsides involve costumes, accents, and quick thinking, and they make for great television.

Meanwhile, Emma is busy chasing down criminals and solving any mysteries that come her way. After she and Charlie spend the whole day narrowly avoiding each other, they meet up for a date. This is the TV show that has it all, including the flaws of the genre. Like all female cops on television, she is cold and distant, and her boyfriend cheated on her because he didn’t feel like she really liked him. Charlie has dreams beyond being a con man, but that’s all he knows since the day he was born, and he was taken in by his own con fiancée. Neither of them can ever let anyone else really know them, but they both feel like they know each other. They are perfect for each other but can never really show it, and in fact they sometimes have to pretend not to be in love with each other. Depending on how this secret outfit plays out, this roller coaster could get old fast. Hopefully the series has enough tricks up its sleeve to keep things interesting. He certainly has the chemistry.

At the very least, producers Ventimiglia, Phil Klemmer, Julia Cohen and Jon M. Chu have sources to turn to. The series is based on a 2019 South Korean show called “My Fellow Citizens!” which is about a con man who marries a police detective and only learns his true trade on their wedding day. Charlie and Emma are not yet close to marriage and can barely hold a public conversation, but they are unable to keep away from each other in private.

It’s an interesting place to start with a couple, with plenty of interesting and potentially sexy places for them that can’t follow the usual TV formula of unlikely co-workers falling in love over the course of three seasons. This time, the lovers are unlikely to become anything else, and the fact that we don’t know what anything else is is more exciting than the network dramas have been in a while.

“The Company You Keep” probably isn’t the next “This Is Us” in terms of massive network hits, but so far, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour each week.

“The Company You Keep” premieres February 19 on ABC at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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