Pilot: Wild Bill

Pilot Inspektor
In this series I will attempt to write about every new TV pilot I watch, as well as revisiting old pilots, in the hopes of creating an archive of first reactions to every TV show ever. I’m confident. And hyperbolic.

Ah, Peak TV. This marvelous era, this ~golden age of television~, this time when there are scripted shows about everything, when every channel is ordering scripted series like they grow in trees, when there’s basically a TV show for every person who ever watched TV.

Which gets us to this show.


High-flying US police chief Bill Hixon (Rob Lowe) lands in Boston, Lincolnshire, where he soon discovers that the people of this unfamiliar community are just as smart-mouthed, cynical and difficult to impress as he is.

My synopsis: Rob Lowe goes to Boston to solve crimes except this one Boston is in England, because Peak TV.

First aired June 12, 2019, on ITV.

This is a solid pilot. It’s an ITV production through and through. And it sets up a typical Brit cop show: Boston is a working class small community where everyone knows everyone, struggling with unemployment and dreary weather, while crime is on the rise, and the police department has been deemed incompetent. It has the kind of Brit coppers you’ve seen in every other Brit cop show. It has the small town Brit folk we’re used to see on ITV shows. Nothing about it is out of the ordinary… except for Rob Lowe.

ROB FREAKING LOWE, who stars as an USA expat cop who has had some sort of mental breakdown back in the US, and has moved all the way to England to be the new constable. He’s supposed to be a brilliant crime nerd who has developed some sort of algorithm that helps police departments improve their crime solving rates. And he will obviously clash with the traditional Brit cops who aren’t keen to start using Rob Lowe’s ideas in their investigations.

It’s not the premise, or the plot, that is jarring here. Rob Lowe is the jarring element.

But it somehow works? The show is very much a procedural — there’s the crime of the week so be solved within the episode time frame — while it sets up the character arc for Rob Lowe’s character to deal with the death of his wife, with his smart beyond her years teenage daughter, with the one jaded lady cop who immediately hates him, and the other lady rookie cop who’s read all about him and believes he’s come to solve all their problems. As I said, it’s very much what you expect from a Brit copper pilot. And then it got weirdly hijacked by Rob Lowe.


• Bronwyn James is great as rookie cop Muriel Yeardsley. She’s as much bright eyes and obstinate as she’s jaded.

• Aloreia Spencer plays Rob Lowe’s daughter, and she’s also pretty great. This is her acting debut.

• The pilot ends with a very Lumineers-like alt-folk aww shucks Mumford & Sons-y song. It’s by an Irish band named Villagers. The song is called Courage.


Will I keep watching?

As typical British series go, the first season is only six episodes, and I have already watched two more episodes after I saw the pilot.

Peak TV, man.

Trailer and image credits: ITV