There’s an inherent cynicism in the pitch “rookie cops,” wedding a TV staple with an excuse to chase a demographically desirable young audience. Hence we get ABC’s Canadian import “Rookie Blue” and now the homegrown “NYC 22,” a Robert De Niro-produced hour set in New York’s moderately mean streets. Although the previewed episodes dare to be more serialized than most CBS fare, the characters tend to be archetypes as opposed to fleshed out, down to their snarling but good-hearted commander. Mostly, watching these pallid police simply makes one appreciate how good TNT’s “Southland” is.
Shot in Harlem, the show does capture a gritty look, along with the dangers and challenges cops face. Yet even with its creative pedigree, this is awfully basic learning-the-tricks-of-the-trade stuff.
It’s also another one of those series where young officers told to avoid trouble quickly find themselves dealing with street brawls and hostage situations, seeing more action in four episodes than most real-life counterparts do in as many months.
The casting, in fact, is the only thing that remotely distinguishes “NYC,” with Terry Kinney as a field training officer nicknamed “Yoda,” Adam Goldberg playing a former reporter who represents the group’s oldest rookie, and Leelee Sobieski as an Iraq war vet.
After that, the characters have a by-the-numbers quality to them, seemingly designed to represent every demo: A former NBA player (Harold House Moore) whose career flamed out; a fourth-generation cop (Stark Sands), with all the weighty expectations that entails; a young woman (Judy Marte) trying to atone for her family’s criminal history; and an Afghani native (Tom Reed) who faces his share of hazing from NYPD veterans.
Created by Richard Price, who wrote the pilot directed by James Mangold, the plotlines are neither bad nor distinctive. Even the serialized elements adhere closely to familiar themes, like Kenny (Sands) having a crush on a troubled youth’s sister, or Goldberg’s character seeking to redeem himself after freezing at a key moment.
For all its success, CBS needs to start weaning itself off the mother’s milk of “CSI,” but “NYC 22” appears unlikely to lead the charge. And while the show’s vision encompasses a touch more character than the average procedural, this latest case of the NYPD blues is hardly a reason to start spreading the news.