MTV, that not especially musical network for high school and college students and people who wish they were back in high school or college, premieres its first scripted crime drama Monday night.
Based on an adult novel by popular young-adult author R.L. Stine and developed by director Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight"), "Eye Candy" features Victoria Justice as Lindy, a beautiful, young tech genius and part-time "white knight cybervigilante." Lindy's life was changed by the abduction of her still-missing younger sister, during a prologue set three years before the main action; now she uses her skills to help others in similar situations.
After a little of this and a little of that, we find ourselves in a story in which Lindy is herself the target of a stalker and possibly a serial killer — very likely one of three men she met on a Tinder-like app called Flirtual that she didn't really want to use in the first place. She will bend her cyberskills and risk her real-world neck in an attempt to solve this mystery, which seems to have nothing to do with her missing sister, and whatever other things the show throws at her over 10 episodes.
It begins well. The prologue is well-handled, suspenseful and alarming, but much of what follows seems at least a little bit silly or confused. Justice, who grew up in Nickelodeon series — that network, perhaps not coincidentally, is a corporate cousin of MTV — is appealing, but there is an overall impression of actors playing dress-up, rather than of real people sharing an experience. Everyone is, of course, young.
She has a best friend and roommate (Kiersey Clemons), who runs a big night club behind a flower shop and who has another best friend (John Garet Stoker), an arch and superior gossip blogger — because that's how bloggers are, right? — whom Lindy tolerates without liking. (It's mutual.)
There is a police detective (Dan Lissing) with whom she had a relationship before he busted her for digital breaking and entering and another police detective (Casey Deidrick) who, like pretty much everyone else here, would prefer that Lindy leave the detecting to the detectives.
"Romancing a murderer is not a good idea," observes Lindy's roommate.
"Well, it's the only idea I have," says Lindy.
"Well, it's not a good one."
But this is only one bad decision among many. "Eye Candy" is not the most logical of shows, though I grant you that the genre requires a certain amount of illogic, and that there are successful series on bigger networks that don't always make much sense. And everyone, of course, is nice to like at.
It's hard to tell from the couple of episodes I've seen whether we're going to have another eight of Lindy almost being killed by the same brilliant nut job, or something more episodic. In the second episode, she's offered a job by the head of the NYPD cybercrimes unit (Melanie Nicholls-King, from "The Wire," grounding things for a minute), which she hesitates to take because "people like me don't work for people like you."
But it wouldn't be the worst thing for the show to become "CSI: Cyber," tweaked in style and subject for the youth demo. It could happen; it might even be the plan.
When: 10 p.m. Monday