Mere weeks after TNT managed to inject a couple fresh ideas into the shopworn cop genre with “The Closer,” the network returns to the well for yet another police drama. This one tosses every cop cliché against the wall in the desperate hope that at least one of them will stick. Unfortunately, the most they do is leave a vague stain behind.
“Wanted” follows the weekly adventures of the an elite squad of Los Angeles detectives. (Are there any cops on TV who are not part of an “elite squad.”) This fantasy force is made up of crimebusters from L.A.P.D., the FBI, the ATF and even Naval Intelligence. Their mission is to hang out in this really cool warehouse filled with high-tech gadgets and hunt down the 100 most wanted criminals in L.A. These aren't your usual cops, either. (Although they are your usual TV cops.) These mean machines are all tough rogue cops with bad attitudes and lots of tattoos. Oh, and there's a hot chick who's just been assigned to the elite squad, although all the tough boys give her a hard time. (Couldn't see that coming.)
The cast is mostly made up of little-known TV actors, with the exception of the acrimoniously divorced (just like Dennis Leary on “Rescue Me”) squad leader, who's played by Gary Cole. (He was the dad on The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel.) One of the other cops looks like a professional wrestler. Another one is all hunky looking. One of them is the lead singer of the metal band Saliva, if that means anything to you.
“Wanted” tries very hard to look gritty, edgy and “pumping.” (They actually used that adjective in the press kit, so I'm just passing it on to you.) Mostly, the show looks like a remake of “Fastlane,” FOX's aborted update of “Miami Vice” as directed by McG (Charlie's Angels). The camera speeds up, zooms down out of space, jitters its way from one scene to another--anything to keep its attention deficit disordered audience awake.
Cheap attempts at shock value litter the script. A priest is punched out in the first couple minutes, a team member dies in the last couple minutes, and a little girl is raped just so the show can set up some cheap sentiment for its main character. (Sorry, but equating raping a little girl with forgetting to pick up your kids after Little League, just doesn't wash.) And, since it's on cable, the characters can all curse a little bit. (Sample dialogue delivered to ex-wife: “I see your bitch pill just kicked in.”)
There's very little detective work on display in “Wanted.” These cops are mostly required to look tough, chase people, beat them up in the interrogation room and then shoot some scumbag before the end credits roll. But, if you long for the cut-and-dried days of “T.J. Hooker”-style police procedurals, then your just the audience “Wanted” is looking for.
“Wanted” premieres Sunday, July 31, at 8 p.m. on TNT