Though better than last year's entry (in which Randy Quaid and Alex McArthur played the lead detectives), "Ice" still doesn't cut it. There's implied violence and a few knockabouts, but scripter Larry Cohen, without softening the vidpic's hard casing, has been admirably restrained on blood, lingo and sex.

Though better than last year’s entry (in which Randy Quaid and Alex McArthur played the lead detectives), “Ice” still doesn’t cut it. There’s implied violence and a few knockabouts, but scripter Larry Cohen, without softening the vidpic’s hard casing, has been admirably restrained on blood, lingo and sex.

TX: TX:Filmed in Toronto by Diana Kerew Prods. Inc. and Hearst Entertainment. Exec producer, Diana Kerew; director- The story opens briskly enough with a chorine (Laura Catalano) stepping into the theater alley to get wiped out. Boyfriend Tim (Dean McDermott) doesn’t help the cause, so detective Steve Carella (Dale Midkiff) and his partner Meyer Meyer (Joe Pantoliano) are off on a chase.

The two work through a tricky storyline involving more murders, a sideshow of secondary characters and a pair of flamboyant grotesques passing as a monk and his razor-wielding co-worker (Nigel Bennett, Diane Douglas).

But Cohen’s dialogue too often falls flat, and Midkiff doesn’t deliver any pizzazz as the tough-talking detective, though he and live-in g.f. Teddy do pull off several touching scenes. Hearing-impaired Andrea Parker is tops as Teddy, Carella’s love.

Pantoliano’s Meyer is standard tough, while Eileen Burke is terrif as an undercover cop flirting with danger. Paul Johansson makes something credible of detective Kling, who’s emotionally scarred by his ex-wife (regal, beauteous Monika Schnarre). Lisa La Croix as a doomed prostie is solid, while Michael Gross is stuck with a stet role as the precinct lieutenant.

Bradford May’s flashy direction hands the dark crime drama plenty of vitality , and Bud Hayes’ editing sets a dazzling pace. Production designer Gerry Holmes makes Toronto into McBain’s fictional town of Isola, a gritty, dangerous burg with a gritty, dangerous underground. At least it looks the part.

Ed Mcbain's 87th Precinct Ice

Production

Ed McBain's 87th Precinct ICE (Sun. (18), 9-11 p.m., NBC)

Crew

Camera, Bradford May; writer, Larry Cohen; based on Ed McBain's novel; editor, Bud Hayes; production designer, Gerry Holmes; art director, Alistair MacRae; sound, Ao Loo; music, Joseph Conlan.

With

Cast: Dale Midkiff, Joe Pantoliano, Paul Johansson, Andrea Parker, Dean McDermott, Andrea Ferrell, Diane Douglas, Nigel Bennett, Leonore Zane, Philip Akin, Tim Koetting, Hugh Thompson, Judah Katz, Lisa La Croix, Conrad Dunn, Christopher Kennedy, Laura Catalano, Kristin Lehman, Monika Schnarre, Claire Rankin, David Keeley, Harve Sokoloff, Marc Marut, Kelly Fiddick, Marcia Bennett, Caroly Larson, Philip Williams, Tony Meyler, Tricia Williams, Ross Petty. Maybe Ed McBain's 87th precinct folks just can't be turned into a totally convincing vidpic. Last year's take on his crime novel "Lightning" didn't work and now "Ice" tries with a different cast and a so-so treatment. Plenty of murders, plenty of action, plenty of subplots crash through the adaptation, but there's no conviction.
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