Looking Back at K-Ville 6 Years Later

When “Sleepy Hollow” premiered three weeks ago, it was the highest rated debut on Fox in six years. The last show to debut that well on Fox? “K-Ville.”

“K-Ville” was one of my favorite TV shows of the last decade. It premiered in September 2007 and revolved around the duties of NOPD officers Marlon Boulet (Anthony Anderson) and his partner Trevor Cobb (Cole Hauser). The two men are an unlikely pairing in post Katrina New Orleans, as they and the city are fighting to regain their footing.

At first glance, “K-Ville” could be mistaken for the classic buddy-cop cliche. A black guy and white guy team up to fight crime, kick ass and take names. I never viewed K-Ville in that light however. Anthony Anderson’s character, Boulet, is a native New Orleanian who’s still dealing with ghosts of Katrina some two years later. In the pilot episode we watch as he tries to assist people in the immediate aftermath of Katrina only to watch his partner go AWOL and drive off in a police cruiser. Later, Boulet’s partner returns to the unit and Boulet is forced to reconcile with the man who once deserted him.

Cobb might be the last person you would expect to be serving in law enforcement. Through flashbacks we see Cobb in an orange jumpsuit trying to calm his cellmate as the water steadily rises throughout the prison. Yes, Cobb was serving a bid and had four months left at the time of the storm. Cobb ultimately has to make a drastic decision to survive and he ends up starting over after his arrest records are literally washed away due to the storm.

Within the prism of these two characters (and the police force) we get to see New Orleans trying to pick itself up and bring things back to normal. Whether it’s people abandoning their homes, past acquaintances coming back into the fold, or a police force trying to overcome its tarnished image, all are in play in “K-Ville.”

Perhaps the reason I’m so fond of “K-Ville” is because of my own experience with New Orleans. In March of 2006 I was fortunate enough to take part in the first restoration effort following Hurricane Katrina. It was a bunch of college students from all over the South who were in New Orleans over our spring break to lend a helping hand. During my week there we saw plenty of abandoned homes, demolished structures and debris still scattered about as if the hurricane had only occurred days and not months before.

In the midst of all this, I’ll never forget the resolve of the people I met. There was a man by the name of Lionel who I had spoke with who witnessed his entire house literally crumble due to a wave of water. Six months later all that was left was a rotting structure filled with debris and sewage. Lionel had moved his family to Houston in the interim and was determined to rebuild. I’m not sure whats become of him in the seven years since, but I know the people in the Lower 9th Ward, which took the hardest hit, weren’t going to give up on the only place they knew without a fight. “K-Ville” I felt captured this resolve and rebuild spirit through Boulet, who we see unwilling to leave his neighborhood for greener pastures like Atlanta.

“K-Ville,” like any series, isn’t perfect and I felt the last couple of episodes weren’t as strong as the first few, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s unfortunate that it was only on for one season as I thought there was real potential with the show to grow and evolve just as New Orleans was evolving post Katrina. Anthony Anderson tweeted me some weeks ago and said the writers strike at the time hurt the show. That’s unfortunate because “K-Ville” had an authenticity about it that made you believe that you weren’t just watching a cop show, but looking into the lives of characters who were trying to adjust to a changing city.    

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