Because it’s a crime show nonetheless, “The Calling” merely fills Avi’s professional life with hallowed tropes. Yes, he has a boss, Karen Robinson’s Captain Kathleen Davies, who barks at him when he crosses the line (“You’re not here to save mankind, I just need you to solve crimes !”) but also helps sum up everything that happened for the viewer; he also has a comedic sidekick (Michael Mosley) and another, Juliana Canfield’s Janine Harris, who becomes his partner while observing his faith and admiring him for it. (She’s the spokesperson for this show’s odd preoccupation with mentioning the “Law & Order” show, as if “The Calling” is a delusion to think it’s vastly different.) Each supporting character is played with enough charisma, despite the show’s progressively lackluster tone and visual palette that turns Barry Levinson’s first two episodes into a generic work.
Adapted from the Avraham Avraham books by DA Mishani, this Peacock Original from creator David E. Kelley has at least one plot that sparks enough curiosity to see its revelations; he knows how to open up a big juicy question and let the suspects make his possibilities weirder. Where did young Vincent disappear? Does it have to do with his parents, the bickering married couple upstairs, the kids at school? The stories about that missing child, and later about the bomb threat, take on their own junky charm. But the schemes revealed show how contrived his crimes must be, as “The Calling” tries to say something about the chilling depths of everyday humanity but uses melodramatic shorthand to do so; what should be devastating here are just salacious gossip magazines. And that is to say, the mystery doesn’t need a focal character of faith to make them specifically more interesting.
Which brings us to how this series try being special in Avi’s position as a man of faith is actually one of its craziest parts. In some passages, it’s almost played as if he has a supernatural gift for people through his faith, the way he can imagine more details of a crime by holding someone’s hand or going into a trance. while drawing. But that itself is only roughly sketched, and it struggles to create a solid emotional core. Later, when Avi offers his thoughts on a crime using his beliefs, it’s out of place, if not goofy. He’ll casually say something like, “A famous rabbi once said, ‘The truth will set you free.’ This rabbi was Jesus Christ. It makes little sense to the case, or the people around him, just him and the series supporting him. It’s easy to imagine characters from other crime stories, those less sentimental at heart than “The Calling,” laughing in his face.