Ellen Gray: The cop show is re-created - again

Matt Passmore (right) stars as a former Chicago homicide detective on A&E's "The Glades," with Kiele Sanchez (left).
Matt Passmore (right) stars as a former Chicago homicide detective on A&E's "The Glades," with Kiele Sanchez (left).
Posted: July 08, 2010

THE GLADES. 10 p.m. Sunday, A&E.

HAVEN. 9 p.m. tomorrow, Syfy.

THE BRIDGE. 8 p.m. Saturday, CBS.

SO MANY QUIRKY crimefighters, so little time.

One of TV's oldest genres, the cop show, is currently being reinvented about once every 37 minutes, a statistic I believe to be every bit as grounded in reality as:

_ Fake psychic detectives (USA's "Psych," which returns next Wednesday, and CBS' "The Mentalist").

_ Federal agents operating within parallel universes (Fox's "Fringe") or within the realm of the occult (Syfy's "Warehouse 13" and its new Stephen King show, "Haven," which premieres tomorrow).

_ FBI consultants wearing ankle bracelets (USA's "White Collar," which returns at 9 p.m. Tuesday).

_ Deep-fried eccentric Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick in TNT's "The Closer") and a police detective with a guardian angel named Earl (Holly Hunter and Leon Rippy in TNT's just-ended "Saving Grace").

_ Human lie detectors (Tim Roth in Fox's "Lie to Me").

But, hey, that's entertainment.

And reality can be overrated.

Still, if you're interested in something with a bit of grit, you might want to check out network TV's latest Canadian import, "The Bridge," which has a two-hour premiere Saturday on CBS.

Aaron Douglas ("Battlestar Galactica") stars as Frank Leo, a Toronto cop whose disgust with corruption within his department - which apparently extends to its upper levels - triggers his latent union gene.

(No, it's not exactly like suddenly discovering you've been a Cylon your entire life without ever once suspecting it.)

Stuart Margolin guest-stars as Frank's father, a longtime union guy with a problematic past, and Michael Murphy plays the chief of police with whom Frank forges a tricky alliance.

Douglas is an unconventional leading man and his character in "The Bridge," reportedly based on Craig Bromell, a former Toronto police union chief who's one of the show's executive producers, something of an unconventional hero, even by the wide-open standards of American cop shows.

They do make an interesting pair, though.

People who like their stories wrapped up neatly in 44 minutes or so (yes, I'm looking at you, CBS viewers) may find this one a "Bridge" too far, but for anyone who likes their cops complicated and their plots twisted, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night.

It's the characters who may be a little twisted in A&E's "The Glades," a sunny take on the police procedural that plops Chicago homicide detective Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) into the fictional small town of Palm Glade, Fla., after his boss back home puts a bullet in him under the mistaken impression that Jim was sleeping with his wife.

Don't you hate it when that happens?

Things are supposed to be quiet in Palm Glade - maybe a bit too quiet for a guy of Longworth's ability - but worry not: Before you can even whisper "Cabot Cove," there's a decapitated body in a creek and the not exactly laid-back detective's golf game has been shot to hell.

Given that Florida crime fiction is practically a genre in itself, this really shouldn't surprise anyone. If they have more murders in Chicago than in backwater Florida towns, you'd never guess it from the books they sell at the drugstore.

I will, however, admit to being surprised by the pilot's ending, something I took as a sign that "The Glades" might be a fun spot to spend some summer Sundays.

It's cooler, though, in Maine, setting for Syfy's new Friday drama, "Haven."

Based on a Stephen King novella, "The Colorado Kid," "Haven" stars Emily Rose ("ER") as FBI agent Audrey Parker, who's sent to the often-foggy town of Haven to track down an escaped convict who's killed a federal prison guard. She quickly discovers that what's going on there needs a bit more of her attention.

You might also think, of course, that the feds would send more than one agent in on a case like this, but on the broad spectrum of TV crime-fighting, it's safe to say "Haven" falls closer to "The X-Files" than it does to "Law & Order."

Audrey, we quickly learn, is one of those people who wants to believe. And there may be another reason she's been sent to Haven.

Every Mulder needs a Scully, and Audrey seems likely to find one in the person of a local cop (Lucas Bryant) whose inability to feel physical pain is probably going to be one of the milder differences displayed by the town's residents.

Maybe it's just too soon after the bitter nonending of ABC's "Happy Town," but there's nothing in the pilot of "Haven" that makes me eager to crawl down the rabbit hole of one more small town mystery with supernatural overtones.

Proceed at your own risk. *

Send e-mail to graye@phillynews.com.

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