'Keen Eddie' is ready for his close-up

What if Rupert Murdoch bought the BBC and turbo-charged those British "Mystery" shows with a whole new Fox attitude? The result might look something like "Keen Eddie" (8 p.m., Fox), a brash new fish-(and chips)-out-of-water detective series.

Mark Valley ("Pasadena") stars in the title role as New York City detective Eddie Arlette. After disgracing the police brass with a botched drug raid, he's exiled to London to help Scotland Yard fight narcotics dealers. Sure, the premise is contrived, but it allows the no-nonsense Eddie to interact with quirky Brits, including his surly, beautiful flat-mate, Fiona (Sienna Miller); his unpredictable partner, Monty Pippin (Julian Rhind-Tutt); and the joyless police superintendent, Nathanial Johnson (Colin Solomon).

"Eddie" makes the most of its foreign locale with split screens, oddly framed scenes, flashbacks, flash-forwards and a hyperkinetic editing style. At its best, "Eddie" offers a curious hybrid of "Die Hard" and "Trainspotting." Valley does his best to continue the tradition of sexy, hard-boiled American detectives dating back to Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen and Humphrey Bogart. The quintessential loner, Eddie's most significant relationship is with his dog, Pete, a remote-control-chewing pest that Eddie can't stand. Eddie's scenes with the peculiarly coifed Monty offer a whole new variation on the buddy cop genre, particularly when Pippen invites him to a "swinger's club."

The show is not without a few false notes. It seems absurd that he feels compelled to sing "New York, New York" in the shower, and it's hard to believe that he doesn't know that the British currency is pounds and not grams. But the series' droll characters more than make up for these minor miscues.

"Eddie" arrives just as the summer looked like a long, dry spell of reruns and reality. It should be interesting to see if this saucy new series finds an audience on Fox, a network that has built its recent success on "American Idol" and "Joe Millionaire." But if last year's "Monk" is any indication, hungry summer viewers will seek out a witty show that respects their intelligence.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger hosts "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes & Villains" (7 p.m., CBS), a clip-rich cavalcade of the good, the bad and the evil screen characters, as chosen by 1,500 movie industry experts and insiders.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Romance blooms on the eve of Sookie's wedding on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
  • Billy Bush and Daisy Fuentes are hosts of "Miss Universe 2003" (8 p.m., NBC), live from Panama City, Panama.
  • "Scientific American Frontiers" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines the relationship between stress and illness. Alan Alda is host.
  • "The Real World" (9 p.m., MTV) begins a 13th season in Paris.

Late night

Alec Baldwin and Tom Dreesen appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Paul Walker and Jack Johnson on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).


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