Ellen Gray: New cop show doesn't follow the British version of 'Prime 'Suspect'

Posted: September 22, 2011

* PRIME SUSPECT. 10 tonight, NBC10.

AMERICA NEEDS another cop show about as much as it needs another remake of a British classic.

So it's just as well that NBC's "Prime Suspect," premiering tonight, appears to be only loosely based on the series in which Helen Mirren starred as Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison.

And that it doesn't yet feel like just another cop show.

"Prime Suspect" fans would be better off starting fresh with Maria Bello's New York Police Detective Jane Timoney (named, yes, for ex- Philly Police Commissioner John Timoney, who went through the NYPD academy with the show's technical adviser).

Hat on head, Norristown's Bello goes her own way in NBC's version, developed by "NYPD Blue" veteran Alexandra Cunningham and "Friday Night Lights" producer Peter Berg.

Still, Bello's Jane is as passionate and possibly even more impolitic than Mirren's, and at least for now, no better at fitting in with the guys in her new squad room.

Those guys - played by the likes of Aidan Quinn, Brian F. O'Byrne and Kirk Acevedo - aren't going to be won over in a single episode. I wasn't, either, completely. But I'll be back for more.

Also new tonight

"Charlie's Angels" (8 tonight, 6ABC). I found the pilot for this reboot of that Aaron Spelling '70s show about "three little girls" - now played by Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh - who work for a disembodied voice named Charlie to be pretty much unwatchable. But then I felt the same way last fall about CBS' "Hawaii Five-0."

"Person of Interest" (9 tonight, CBS 3). "Lost" fans will want to check out Michael Emerson as another enigmatic character in a show in which numbers figure (and which includes J.J. Abrams among its executive producers). But anyone who takes "Person of Interest" seriously might also be on the lookout for an island that doesn't show up on radar.

Emerson plays Mr. Finch, a billionaire who created a post-9/11 surveillance system for the government and wants to use it to do something that could seriously hurt CBS: stopping crimes before they happen. How? By enlisting a homeless ex-CIA guy (Jim Caviezel), to track down people the system suggests will soon be either a victim or a perpetrator. Clever but somehow not very absorbing, "Person" might provoke the paranoid while leaving the generation who's grown up on camera wondering what all the fuss is about.

"Whitney" (9:30 tonight, NBC10). If you liked CBS' "2 Broke Girls," you might or might not like the show that stars the woman who wrote it, Penn grad Whitney Cummings, who's double-dipping with two new sitcoms, this one about a woman who fears marriage.

But if you found the "2 Broke Girls" dialogue crude, you shouldn't like "Whitney's" any better. Cummings as a performer is a taste I haven't fully acquired, but when the pilot works (as it does from time to time), it's because Chris D'Elia, as her patient-but-not-a-pushover boyfriend, suggests she's worth knowing.

Send email to graye@phillynews.com.

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