Swift Justice” shamelessly exercises TV cliches, beginning with a pun on the main character’s name as the show’s title. On the other hand, UPN cop series is from Dick Wolf’s shop, so attention must be paid.
Mac Swift (James McCaffrey) is a Navy SEAL turned nerviest cop on the New York Police Dept.’s Special Crimes Unit, where he battles by-the-book superiors, abetted by his father (Len Cariou), a veteran police sergeant still on active duty.
In premiere episode, Swift teams with a hooker (Kim Dickens) to bust a baddy (Skipp Suddeth) who is using prostitutes to steal credit card numbers. Hooker Annie (Dickens) is on the street only to work her way through college while paying her mother’s nursing home bills, of course, and winds up romantically entangled with Swift with predictable results — what, he’s going to go through the series with a prostie girlfriend?
All this hokum is made watchable by strong casting — McCaffrey is solid as Swift — and excellent visuals, hallmarks of previous Wolf series “Law & Order” and “New York Undercover.”
Of course, it’s amazing that Swift has been allowed to remain on the force as long as he has, and as premiere seg ends, he’s fired –returning, one assumes, in future episodes as an unofficial “Equalizer,” fighting crime with help when he needs it from sympathetic buddies still on the force.
Swift will be able to support himself and his palatial digs, it’s explained, thanks to royalties from some computer software he has developed.
Cariou and Gary Dourdan are strong as Swift’s father and dreadlocked partner, Det. Randall Patterson, respectively, and Giancarlo Esposito appears briefly and effectively as one of those by-the-book superiors. Dickens makes more of the hooker character than exists on the page; other roles are competently filled.
Show has a sensational look, thanks this time around to director Jace Alexander, d.p. Scott Williams, editor Leon Ortiz-Gil (the opening sequence is a stunner) and production designer Ted Glass. Rick Marotta’s music, all synthesizers and percussion, also helps. The best-looking show on UPN outside the “Star Trek” franchise and with nothing like it in its time slot, “Swift Justice” just might be a winner.