Gang Related, which premiered on May 22 on the Fox network, appears to be the Latino version of The Departed sans Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. There is one other variation in the plot though, there is no undercover cop threatening to spill the beans on the gang’s mole in the police department.
The show is centered around Ryan Lopez who grew up under the protection of a local gang boss after his dad dies. His “adoptive” father sets up a course that will inevitably place Ryan in the police department where he can help his “family” in the gang, known as the Los Angelicos.
Lopez works for veteran police officer Sam Chapel, played by Terry O’Quinn who leads a task force attempting to crack down on an increase in organised crime. This is Ryan’s second family and Chapel is the second father figure in his life.
At the beginning of the show, Lopez’s partner is killed by a key member of the gang, Carlos Acosta, whose father is the head of the Los Angelicos gang and the policeman’s other father figure. Ryan does nothing and is shot by Carlos who then runs off.
Lopez has to go through the motions of helping to catch the one responsible for killing his partner and yet keep Carlos from being brought to justice for the senseless murder of his fellow task member.
Lopez and his team are tracking down a new drug on the street called fish scale cocaine. By the time the pilot of the show ends, Ryan has made Carlos pay for murdering his partner and the task force has temporarily stopped the influx of the new drug.
Gang Related may not be the most original show on television this year, being a Latino version of the big screen film The Departed but it does at least have some very able actors in the series. Terry O’Quinn plays another strong character and it is nice to see him back on form after Lost.
Thus far the show has had some impressive action pieces, one attempted “rolling” armored car robbery featured enough gunplay and vehicular stunts to keep most fans of cops and robbers shows very happy.
This Latino touch has been missing from most police shows on offer and it is nice to see so much talent not being wasted. The question remains as to just how long the series can manage the dance between Ryan’s gang family and his police one.
That the character is torn between the two worlds is apparent, but as evidenced by Lopez’s retribution against Carlos at the end of the pilot, he has no problem reverting to violence. Ramon Rodriguez, who plays Ryan, has been working steadily since 2005 and his ability as an actor will enable him to carry the show easily.
Along with the able talents of Quinn, as well as Cliff Curtis and RZA and a cast who feel like they belong in this crime ridden verse the show is entertaining. Only time will tell if Gang Related will succeed as the Latino version of The Departed or not. With Fox’s record of damning new shows before they have a chance to make it past their first season, this new cop series may be short lived.
By Michael Smith