Travanti heads the cast as Lt. Ray McAuliffe, a Chi cop who, injured in a shootout, was moved to less strenuous desk job. Like the Commish, this desk jockey likes to get his hands dirty, or at least as dirty as they can get looking for missing people.

Travanti heads the cast as Lt. Ray McAuliffe, a Chi cop who, injured in a shootout, was moved to less strenuous desk job. Like the Commish, this desk jockey likes to get his hands dirty, or at least as dirty as they can get looking for missing people.

Other regulars include an ethnically mixed staff that looks like an updated “Mod Squad”– black Bobby Davison (Erik King); Hispanic Carlos Marrone (Juan Ramirez); plucky female Connie Karadzik (Jorjan Fox); and, this being Chicago, the Polish-American Sandowski (Fred Weller).

As in “The Commish,” these cops have family lives: McAuliffe’s wife (Paty Lombard) is introduced, there are references to Karadzik’s husband, and a subplot deals with the imminent birth of Marrone’s child. Big-haired hunk Sandowski, on the other hand, is evidently single, wasting no time in attempting to attach himself to Polish-American Vera Waleski (Denise Baske), whose 4 -year-old daughter has been kidnapped.

Sensing Waleski’s vulnerable position, Sandowski spends as much time as possible holding her in his arms, but — displaying unusual sensitivity — doesn’t actually make a date until the child (Lauren Alexandra Sowa) is back at home.

Clearly, this missing persons department has a different concept of ethical behavior than might be hoped for: Misrepresentation and downright lying are taken in stride as part of the job, and Davison doesn’t hesitate to break and enter without a warrant — for which he’s reprimanded and told to come up with a good coverup.

Other cases in the premiere include a missing elderly woman (Fern Persons), a coed whose socialite parents (Byrne Piven, Marge Kotlisky) don’t want things looked into too deeply, and a philandering husband (Scott Haven) brought to some kind of justice by Karadzik.

Dialogue and acting throughout is of a convoluted and histrionic style more often found in daytime.

Principals could become comfortable on a weekly basis, and director Gary Sherman and production designer Mark Freeborn make good use of Chicago locations.

The Abc Monday Night Movie Missing Persons

(Mon. (30), 9-11 p.m., ABC-TV)

Production

Filmed in Chicago by Stephen J. Cannell Prods. Executive producers, Gary Sherman, Stephen J. Cannell; producer, Johanna Persons; director, Gary Sherman; script, Gary Sherman.

Crew

Camera, Alex Nepomniaschy; editor, Janet Bartels-Vandagriff; art director, Cydney Harris; sound, David Obermeyer; music, Joe Renzetti; production designer, Mark Freeborn.

Cast

Cast: Daniel J. Travanti, Erik King, Juan Ramirez, Fred Weller, Jorjan Fox, Denise Baskle, Greta Lind, Byrne Piven, Marge Kotlisky, Robert Mohler, Bob Swan, Paty Lombard, David Darlow, Laura Whyte, Lauren Alexandra Sowa, John Watson Sr., Fern Persons, Mary Ann Thebus, Anne Hubbard, Paul Dillon, Ian Gomez, Marilyn Dodds-Frank, Mike Bacarella, Richard Krzyzanowski, Don Herion, Joyce Hazard, Walter A. Green, Ernest T. Brown, George Czarnecki, Scott Haven, Daniel Blinkoff , Tim Decker, Michael Kendall, Sergio Flores, Robert Roitblat, Tony Mockus Jr.
With a title and cast that invokes images of a new reality show -- hosted by Daniel J. Travanti, standing behind a mahogany desk, flanked by gilt-framed portraits of Judge Crater, Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa --"Missing Persons" is instead a pilot for the latest release from Stephen J. Cannell's production company, a Chicago-set dramatic series set to debut in its regular 8-9 p.m. time slot on Thursday, Sept. 23. It's one of the Cannell factory's more serious efforts, even more so than "The Commish," which it most closely resembles.
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