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Do Not Watch 'Will Trent' for the Dog

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 17, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 17, 2023 |


There are some shows that start slow and take a few episodes to find their footing, and there are others that are fully formed and fantastic out of the gate but quickly fall apart. Will Trent, an ABC series based on the Karin Slaughter detective series, is decidedly in the latter camp.

The first two episodes — centering on a case involving characters played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Jennifer Morrison — are terrific. Will Trent (Ramón Rodríguez) is a relatively quiet character with a decidedly mysterious past, an on-again-off-again relationship with another detective, Angie Polaski (Erika Christensen), and a new partner, Faith Mitchell (Iantha Richardson), forced upon him by a competent boss, Amanda Wagner (Sonja Sohn). It’s a great two episodes, which feel like a television adaption of one of Slaughter’s novels, and it left me hoping for more Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who cannot catch a break in television.

Alas, Gosselaar never reappears, the will-they-won’t-they tension between Trent and Polaski is turned down to a very low simmer, and the cases? They’re boring. And so is the character of Will Trent. He’s brooding and quiet and very good at his job — except when he is not — and the dark secret he is trying to keep anyone from finding out is that he is dyslexic. He seems like he should be an interesting character — he has a self-serious monotone like Monk or Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes — but there’s no edge to it, no quirk or assholery. He’s flat.


Christensen’s character is the most dynamic (and she got ripped for the role), but she’s largely sidelined to a B-plot with Michael Ormewood (Jake McLaughlin), who is clearly a bad guy. Their story is far more interesting than the partnership between Trent and Mitchell, who have zero chemistry and don’t particularly like each other.

Worse still is that Will Trent doesn’t even make for good background laundry or cooking television. That’s the whole point of network television copaganda! To give you something you can half pay attention to while you’re chopping onions. But the cases are so boring and/or convoluted that it’s easy to lose track if you’re not focused, and it’s not good enough to warrant your full attention.

But here’s the kicker: That f**king chihuahua that’s on the poster, in all the promotional materials, and in all the trailers? The dog barely exists in the show. The dog feels like an invention of the marketing team to lure in viewers, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the show. The dog is billed as Trent’s “sidekick,” but the dog is not involved in any of the action. It doesn’t leave Trent’s apartment. The dog stays home and maybe stares at Trent while he’s having sex, but mostly it acts as a nuisance the characters have to handwave away.

Will Trent is not a cop-and-dog show. Don’t be fooled. The marketing is a lie. The dog situation is a sham.