New cop show has film noir feel

Tom Sizemore brings a palpable intensity to the dark, stylish and violent new police drama "Robbery Homicide Division" (9 p.m., CBS). He plays detective Sam Cole, the head of an elite unit of the LAPD assigned to the gritty city's most notorious crimes. "Robbery" makes the most of the City of Angels' many murky demimondes and mysterious ethnic enclaves. The pilot begins in a smoky disco in Koreatown, where the thump of club music is shattered by the staccato pop of a drive-by shooter. Cole immediately surmises the pattern of the bullet's spray and soon ascertains that a bloodied "witness" was probably the intended target.

Cole's team (Barry Henley, Klea Scott, David Cubitt and Michael Paul Chan) then link the shooting to another deadly killing in an apparent drug den. Like "The Shield," this drama portrays Los Angeles as a contemporary hell, an American Beruit where police helicopters continually buzz the skies in search of rival gangs, highway speed demons and deranged, machine-gun wielding sickos. It's a far cry from Jack Webb's "Dragnet." But Sizemore's terrific presence and the show's film noir atmosphere allow "Robbery" to stand out in a crowded field of cop dramas.

� Just as Los Angeles looms large in "Robbery Homicide Division," Philadelphia is one of the real stars of the new drama "Hack" (8 p.m., CBS). The series is shot entirely on location in the city of Brotherly Love. Unfortunately, great location shots can't redeem this series from its ponderous dialogue and over-wrought acting.

David Morse stars as Mike Olshansky, a decorated police officer who was expelled from the force for stealing some money from a crime scene. For reasons known only to the writers of "Hack," Olshansky decides to drive a taxi and devote his time to redeeming his life by using his savvy street instincts, quick fists and police connections to right wrongs and help strangers. In short, he's a quirky hybrid of Batman and "Taxi Driver's" Travis Bickle. It's an impossible, and downright silly, combination.

� Do not adjust your screen. You are not seeing double. Highly paid Hollywood writers have decided that we need two series about thirtyish drifters who magically return to the 1980s to undo two decades of bad choices and career inertia. While the WB's "Do Over" exploits the notion for comedy and cheap 80s nostalgia, the new drama "That Was Then" (8 p.m., ABC) sees this gimmick as a serious opportunity to explore dysfunctional family dynamics. It's "thirtysomething" meets "The Time Machine," just talkier.

Travis Glass (James Bulliard) uses his second chance to win Claudia (Kiele Sanchez), the girl of his dreams, away from his phony older brother, Gregg (Brad Raider). The pilot is all but stolen by Tyler Labine's manic turn as Travis's best friend, Pincus. His performance may remind some viewers of Jack Black in "High Fidelity." Call me old fashioned, but it's hard to sympathize with a guy who has been lusting after his sister-in-law for 16 years. Maybe it's time for some Hollywood writers to come up with a show called "Get Over It."

Tonight's other highlights

� Scheduled on "48 Hours" (7 p.m., CBS): a doctor is accused of sexually harassing a patient with multiple personalities.

� Scheduled on a two-hour "Dateline" (7 p.m., NBC): seduced by his sixth-grade teacher, an 18-year-old father of two is suing the school district that failed to protect his innocence.

� Doe takes on a grisly murder case on "John Doe" (8 p.m., Fox).

� The killer of a violent stalker (Sharon Lawrence) may be more than she seems on the third-season premiere of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).

� The dysfunctional detective investigates a fatal Ferris wheel ride on "Monk" (9 p.m., USA).

� Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): interviews with Elizabeth Taylor and Eric Menendez.


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