Review: ‘Ed Mcbain’s 87th Precinct: Heatwave’

Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Heatwave (Sun.(12), 9-11 p.m., NBC) Filmed in Toronto by Diana Kerew Prods. and Hearst Entertainment. Executive producer, Diana Kerew; director, Douglas Barr; writer, Larry Cohen; based on characters created by Ed McBain; camera, Malcolm Cross; editor, Raul Davalos; production designer, Alistair MacRae; sound, Henry Embry; music, Patrick Williams; casting, Fern Orenstein (U.S.), Ross Clydesdale (Canada). Cast: Dale Midkiff, Erika Eleniak, Paul Johansson, Paul Ben Victor, Ron Kuhlman, Marc Gomes, Andrea Ferrell, Michael Gross, Carolyn Dunn, Lynn Cormack, Louise Vallance, Anne Kidder , Julie Stewart, Nancy Leishman, Ian D. Clark, Richard Fitzpatrick, Victor Ertmanis, Mung Ling Tsui. Ed McBain's characters return for a third energetic go-round, but scripter Larry Cohen's presentation of their exploits are way out of step with McBain's cop thrillers. Bumbling, undisciplined, even absurd, these 87th Precinct officers should hang out a Keystone sign. Though the vidpic is titled "Heatwave" (because the town's supposed to be sizzling), there's not much feel of summer torridness in this rumble. Case involves a string of repeat rapes by a masked athlete who promised his victims he'd be back, and now he's just that: back. Idea is to trap him. Ruggedly handsome Dale Midkiff returns as Det. Steve Carella, with Paul Johansson playing highstrung Det. Bert Kling. Paul Ben Victor plays Det. Meyer Meyer, Steve's partner, and Erika Eleniak limns Det. Eileen Burke, whom loving Kling goes all but psycho over. Douglas Barr has directed the wanting vidpic with an open, unchallenging hand as his characters rip around in pointless circles. There's a longish, uninteresting footchase in which the determined Carella pursues the suspect onto a trash truck and gets dumped (this is supposed to be serious). About two-thirds of the way through the vidpic the rapist reveals his face to viewers, but it doesn't create much of a dent in the story. Burke, who, by her actions, doesn't take much seriously, is set up as a decoy for the rapist, who has become a killer. With all the precaution that the fictional city of Isolo's 87th Precinct can muster, Burke still endures rape. This isn't police protection, it's Looney Tunes. There's a subplot about a bigamist, but it's played down; too bad, since Annie Kidder does a solid job as one of the wives. The action ricochets between casual and strenuous, though the actors aren't totally at fault. Barr's direction falters in the action segs, and writer Cohen's misuse of the McBain (aka Evan Hunter, who wrote "The Blackboard Jungle") characters and of those he's created isn't impressive. The two previous Ed McBain vidpix ("Lightning" and "Ice") dominated their time periods in key demos, winning among women 25-54 and people 25-54. Vidpix are doing something right. Tech credits are OK, and Paul Williams supplies a helpful score. Tony Scott

Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct: Heatwave (Sun.(12), 9-11 p.m., NBC) Filmed in Toronto by Diana Kerew Prods. and Hearst Entertainment. Executive producer, Diana Kerew; director, Douglas Barr; writer, Larry Cohen; based on characters created by Ed McBain; camera, Malcolm Cross; editor, Raul Davalos; production designer, Alistair MacRae; sound, Henry Embry; music, Patrick Williams; casting, Fern Orenstein (U.S.), Ross Clydesdale (Canada). Cast: Dale Midkiff, Erika Eleniak, Paul Johansson, Paul Ben Victor, Ron Kuhlman, Marc Gomes, Andrea Ferrell, Michael Gross, Carolyn Dunn, Lynn Cormack, Louise Vallance, Anne Kidder , Julie Stewart, Nancy Leishman, Ian D. Clark, Richard Fitzpatrick, Victor Ertmanis, Mung Ling Tsui. Ed McBain’s characters return for a third energetic go-round, but scripter Larry Cohen’s presentation of their exploits are way out of step with McBain’s cop thrillers. Bumbling, undisciplined, even absurd, these 87th Precinct officers should hang out a Keystone sign. Though the vidpic is titled “Heatwave” (because the town’s supposed to be sizzling), there’s not much feel of summer torridness in this rumble. Case involves a string of repeat rapes by a masked athlete who promised his victims he’d be back, and now he’s just that: back. Idea is to trap him. Ruggedly handsome Dale Midkiff returns as Det. Steve Carella, with Paul Johansson playing highstrung Det. Bert Kling. Paul Ben Victor plays Det. Meyer Meyer, Steve’s partner, and Erika Eleniak limns Det. Eileen Burke, whom loving Kling goes all but psycho over. Douglas Barr has directed the wanting vidpic with an open, unchallenging hand as his characters rip around in pointless circles. There’s a longish, uninteresting footchase in which the determined Carella pursues the suspect onto a trash truck and gets dumped (this is supposed to be serious). About two-thirds of the way through the vidpic the rapist reveals his face to viewers, but it doesn’t create much of a dent in the story. Burke, who, by her actions, doesn’t take much seriously, is set up as a decoy for the rapist, who has become a killer. With all the precaution that the fictional city of Isolo’s 87th Precinct can muster, Burke still endures rape. This isn’t police protection, it’s Looney Tunes. There’s a subplot about a bigamist, but it’s played down; too bad, since Annie Kidder does a solid job as one of the wives. The action ricochets between casual and strenuous, though the actors aren’t totally at fault. Barr’s direction falters in the action segs, and writer Cohen’s misuse of the McBain (aka Evan Hunter, who wrote “The Blackboard Jungle”) characters and of those he’s created isn’t impressive. The two previous Ed McBain vidpix (“Lightning” and “Ice”) dominated their time periods in key demos, winning among women 25-54 and people 25-54. Vidpix are doing something right. Tech credits are OK, and Paul Williams supplies a helpful score. Tony Scott

Ed Mcbain's 87th Precinct: Heatwave

Sun.(12), 9-11 p.m., NBC

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Diana Kerew Prods. and Hearst Entertainment. Executive producer, Diana Kerew; director, Douglas Barr; writer, Larry Cohen; based on characters created by Ed McBain.

Crew

Camera, Malcolm Cross; editor, Raul Davalos; production designer, Alistair MacRae; sound, Henry Embry; music, Patrick Williams; casting, Fern Orenstein (U.S.), Ross Clydesdale (Canada).

Cast

Cast: Dale Midkiff, Erika Eleniak, Paul Johansson, Paul Ben Victor, Ron Kuhlman, Marc Gomes, Andrea Ferrell, Michael Gross, Carolyn Dunn, Lynn Cormack, Louise Vallance, Anne Kidder, Julie Stewart, Nancy Leishman, Ian D. Clark, Richard Fitzpatrick, Victor Ertmanis, Mung Ling Tsui.
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