Another cop show, this one pinned on the Seattle police, offers George C. Scott as retired chief of homicide and Dan Cortese as his cop grandson whose dead father stands between them. Writer/creator Stephen J. Cannell throws in complex plotting, fast action (with car crashes, of course), limp moments, but no bare butts or blue lingo; these cop capers may have a chance considering the competition.
Scott’s tough Joe Trapchek, who worshipped his late son, doesn’t try understanding Chris, longhaired and deadly earnest in his own police work. (In the second episode, Scott has to mouth a godawful exposition to Chris about how Chris grew up, as if he didn’t know.) Chris, resenting grandpa’s comparisons with his late dad, stays away from the family house where his Alzheimer-shadowed grandmother Cora (Piper Laurie in a striking, charming portrayal) lives.
Joe, called back to the force as a consultant, works on unsolved cases from the past. First case involves serial killings, and Chris and partner Jack Gould (a solid Bill Nunn) pin an ID on an unidentified woman’s body, which opens up more than one would expect.
Director Rob Bowman supplies mucho speed and good tender moments. Scott has a go at characterization, but so far the role demands little of the actor’s authority. His best scenes are with his loving wife, Cora. Cortese, “MTV Sports” host who also appeared in last year’s bumpy “Route 66,” proves a strong entry as the disciplined, unassailable sergeant hurt by his grandfather’s attitudes.
“NYPD Blue” has set tough standards, but many viewers will go for this traditional depiction of life in and out of the ol’ station house. Cannell’s version goes for the more conventional TV concept. With sharp stories, with Scott handed more to do and with Cortese’s character beginning to know his grandfather, “Traps” could stay on patrol for some time.
Production designer Jill Scott complements the drama’s tone, and tech credits are strong. Mike Post’s musical comments aren’t subtle, but they cover the territory.