Review: ‘New York Undercover School Ties’

Latest effort from producer Dick Wolf's shop is "Law & Order" set uptown. Like the NBC series, "New York Undercover" is tough, gritty, and features a strong ensemble cast. It's easily Fox's most serious series since ominously short-lived "Tribeca," and should serve as a real showpiece for the weblet.

Latest effort from producer Dick Wolf’s shop is “Law & Order” set uptown. Like the NBC series, “New York Undercover” is tough, gritty, and features a strong ensemble cast. It’s easily Fox’s most serious series since ominously short-lived “Tribeca,” and should serve as a real showpiece for the weblet.

Though show should have across-the-board appeal, it might also answer those who criticize Fox for canceling some low-rated, minority-oriented comedies and for retooling much of the ethnicity out of “MANTIS.”

Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo star as plainclothes cops J.C. Williams and Eddie Torres, with Patti D’Arbanville-Quinn as their deskbound lieutenant.

Current case begins when a woman (Paula Garces) reportsthat she’s been raped at a party. Suspects are identified (deceptively easily) as racially mixed members of a rival high school’s football team; accused (Gabriel Casseus) maintains that “I didn’t rape that girl; she came on to me.” Could the suspect be telling the truth?

Question leads to some ethnic bickering between the leads and legwork leading to climax that improbably calls for D’Arbanville-Quinn’s character to masquerade as a tabloid TV reporter.

Williams and Torres are credible characters, nicely played by Yoba and DeLorenzo.

The TV reporter bit indicates that D’Arbanville-Quinn (show’s resident Anglo and its best-known actor) won’t be chained to her desk; producers of lesser integrity would have her undercover as go-go dancer, hooker, nightclub singer, etc. in future episodes.

Soul singer Teddy Pendergrass appears first on the soundtrack as ironic juxtaposition during the “rape” scene; later in unlikely small club live appearance.

Episode, under Arthur W. Forney’s direction, is elsewhere padded with foot-chases and principals wandering around town to music.

Natalie Chaidez’s script has some nice moments, including Williams’ retort when asked to help pay one of Torres’ snitches: “I don’t need informants — I’ve got Dionne and the Psychic Hotline.”

New York Undercover School Ties

(Thurs. (8), 9-10 p.m., Fox)

Production

Filmed in New York City by Wolf Films in association with Universal Television. Executive producers, Dick Wolf, Andre Harrell; producers, Kevin Arkadie, Arthur W. Forney, Peter McIntosh; supervising producer, Don Kurt; co-producer, Reggie Blythewood; director, Arthur W. Forney; script, Natalie Chaidez.

Crew

Camera, Edward J. Pei; editor, Kevin Krasny; production designer, Dean Taucher; sound, Thomas Brandau; music, Mtume.

Cast

Cast: Malik Yoba, Michael DeLorenzo, Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn, Fatima Faloye, Michael Michele, George Gore II, Paula Garces, Jose Perez, Fernando Lopez, Nancy Ticotin, Paul Butler, Teddy Pendergrass, Gabriel Casseus, Frank Pellegrino, Jim Moody, Robinson Frank Adu, Victor Colicchio, Karen-Angela Bishop, David Wolos-Fonteno, Ivelka Reyes, Jose Zuniga, Carlos Sanz, Rosalinde Milan, Michael Philip del Rio, Dash Mihok, Bernard Shawn White, Marina Durell, Twist Owens, Edward Rosado.
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