Ed McBain novels are known for their riveting plotlines and colorful articulation of police work. Unfortunately, few of the novelist’s strengths are translated in this two-hour telefilm, which centers around a serial killer and his Olympic-hopeful track star victims.
Randy Quaid is uncharacteristically stiff as hard-boiled homicide detective Steve Carella, but it’s interesting to see him veer away from his frequent roles as white-trash relatives or picayune golfers into territory usually reserved for Richard Crenna or Brian Dennehy.
As Quaid and partner Bert Kling (Alex McArthur) endeavor to solve the murders , in typical TV cop drama fashion, each must confront personal demons, including Carella’s coming off a divorce and Kling’s marriage heading toward one.
As Carella muses about why killers kill or how a cop’s lot is an ugly one, Quaid lets the statements stammer off his lips as if he doesn’t believe what he’s saying any more than viewers will.
Deanne Bray as Quaid’s love interest Teddy, a witness to one of the murders, brings an unexpected twist into the mix, as actress and character are hearing-impaired.
Helmer Bruce Paltrow, while having little to work with on the dialogue side, makes up for it with snappy camera angles and flash cuts.
Writers Daniel Levine and Mike Krohn offer none of the smoothness of the novels or the quality of the current crop of ensemble cop dramas.