'Kingpin' assumes the 'Godfather'-wannabe crown

Let's get right to the point. "Kingpin" (9 p.m. Sunday, NBC) is not "The Sopranos." It's not even close. But if you like the violent, epic intrigue of a good old-fashioned miniseries, this "Godfather"-influenced drama might be just your cup of tequila.

"Kingpin" will unfold over six episodes, airing at 9 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays.

Yancey Arias stars as Miguel Cadena, the Ivy League-educated son of a sprawling Mexican drug-dealing family. While studying north of the Rio Grande he happened to marry Marlene (Sheryl Lee), a Yankee blonde who upsets Miguel's family. In other words, Miguel Cadena is Michael Corleone. He's the icy yuppie boss who combines university-trained efficiency with cold-blooded ruthlessness to modernize the old family business.

In tonight's episode, Miguel has to contend with an out-of-control cousin and daffy uncle who believe they still control the syndicate. He gets plenty of help from his lawyer wife, who is far more ruthless and ambitious than Miguel.

With the exception of Chato (Bobby Cannavale), Miguel's brother and partner, most of Miguel's relatives are hotheaded Latin stereotypes. And too many of Miguel's scenes and poses seem patterned on Pacino's portrayal of Michael Corleone. You half expect James Caan to show up and smack him around for being a "college boy" who wears "Ivy League suits."

Those of us who love the modern gangster genre can forgive a little murder, prostitution, extortion, racketeering and bootlegging. But dramatic plagiarism, that's an infamia!

Today's highlights

  • A slain driver turns out to have been a major-league star's drug dealer on "Law & Order" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford star in the 2000 thriller "What Lies Beneath" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Martha Plimpton, Mary Steenburgen and Estelle Parsons guest-star on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • The rivalry between two empty-headed male mannequins (Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) sparks a catfight on the catwalk in the 2001 comedy "Zoolander" (7 p.m., Showtime).
  • Deanna Carter discusses her career and personal life on "Inside Fame" (8 p.m., CMT), featuring additional commentary by Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson, Billy Bob Thornton and Shelby Lynn.

Tonight's series

A desperate man needs saving on "Touched by an Angel" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Two consecutive episodes of "Cops" (7 p.m. Fox) explore the varieties of female crime and vice ... Biological warfare on "The District" (8 p.m., CBS) ... Meddling in a foreign election on "The Agency" (9 p.m., CBS) ... Dating games on "Meet My Folks" (9 p.m., NBC).

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