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Against the Wall

Two series hardly constitute a pattern, but Lifetime's latest original dramas both sip from the same tepid pool: A female detective, balancing work and family.

With:
Abby Kowalski - Rachael Carpani
Sheila Kowalski - Kathy Baker
Lina Flores - Marisa Ramirez
Richie Kowalski - Brandon Quinn
Mackie Phan - Mayko Nguyen
John Brody - Andrew Walker
Danny Mitchell - Chris Johnson
Don Kowalski - Treat Williams

Two series hardly constitute a pattern, but Lifetime’s latest original dramas both sip from the same tepid pool: A female detective, balancing work and family. In “The Protector,” she’s a single mom. In this latest endurance test, “Against the Wall,” she’s a single, young-looking 30-year-old from a family of cops, a la CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” who irks her dad and brothers by joining Chicago’s Internal Affairs Dept. Unfortunately, star Rachael Carpani’s Abby Kowalski is the least interesting character in a not especially galvanizing show — no further investigation required.

Abby becomes an IAD detective knowing it will send shock waves through the family, but hey, it’s the only available route to advancement and her eventual goal of working homicide. This not only irks her very-pregnant new partner (Marisa Ramirez, wearing a lot more than she did in “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena”), who considers her a slumming climber; but her father (Treat Williams), who rages that you don’t “screw over your family for your ambition.”

If only the show, created by “Saving Grace” alum Annie Brunner and run by Nancy Miller, shared a modicum of that ambition. Instead, virtually every beat is a retread, from Abby’s career-focused lack of a social life to her athletic, stress-relieving trysts, which resemble somebody’s comically ill-informed idea of hot sex.

Frankly, the expectant partner played by Ramirez or Abby’s mom (Kathy Baker), presiding as she does over a family of macho beat cops, both seem like more fertile characters to explore, series-wise, than the vanilla-flavored Abby. As is, Carpani (previously seen in A&E’s “The Glades”) stumbles and bumbles a lot, including an opening case involving a cop who gets into a bar brawl where the out-of-the-blue payoff proves completely unconvincing.

Obviously, CBS and TNT have done just fine with relatively undemanding, straightforward crime procedurals, but Lifetime is joining the party awfully late, and these series aren’t even as trashy as its legendary movies. Moreover, the channel’s scripted fare is considerably more staid than its reality shows, with what appears to be little coordination as the channel goes about tweaking its brand.

One Windy City cop drama, Fox’s “The Chicago Code,” has already gone down in the line of duty this year, and “Against the Wall” (even the title is strangely meaningless) will be hard-pressed to escape becoming another casualty. Then again, that might be as close to homicide as Abby winds up getting.

Against the Wall

Lifetime, Sun. July 31, 10 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Universal Cable Prods. Executive producer, Nancy Miller; supervising producer, Annie Brunner; producer, Terry Gould; director, Michael Fresco; writer, Brunner.

Crew: Camera, Sharone Meir; production designer, Franco De Cotis; editor, Kevin Ross; music, Danny Lux; casting, Eric Dawson, Sibby Kirchgessner. 60 MIN.

Cast: Abby Kowalski - Rachael Carpani
Sheila Kowalski - Kathy Baker
Lina Flores - Marisa Ramirez
Richie Kowalski - Brandon Quinn
Mackie Phan - Mayko Nguyen
John Brody - Andrew Walker
Danny Mitchell - Chris Johnson
Don Kowalski - Treat Williams

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