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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2007-2008 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere this season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. While it's still a little early for full reviews (some recasting and reshooting will be done on a good chunk of them), we still want to give you a heads up on what you should - and shouldn't - keep on your radar in the coming months.
And as an added bonus this year, each day we'll also take a look at one of the pilots that didn't make the cut. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
BONUS FIRST LOOK: PROTECT & SERVE (CBS)
(pilot not ordered to series)
The network's description: No official description has been released.
What did they leave out: See above.
The plot in a nutshell: A pseudo-Google Maps overlay of Los Angeles - with individual incidents labeled - introduces us to the lives of a group of L.A.P.D. patrolmen. There's Mike Borelli (Dean Cain), the recently separated veteran who's the squad's de facto den mother; Dennis Harvey (Steve Harris), the cheerful papa bear; his partner Tim "Cookie" Cooke (Thad Luckinbill), the rookie; Paul Grogan (a surprisingly clean shaven Eric Balfour), the resident womanizer; and John Esparza (Edoardo Ballerini), Grogan's partner. And not surprisingly, nearly all of them have concerned loved ones at home - Lizzie (Monica Potter), Mike's estranged wife who's getting back into the working world; Hope ("Jack & Bobby's" Jessica Pare), Tim's hoping-to-get-pregnant wife; Sharon (Tamala Jones), Dennis's equally as cheerful wife; and Anita (Victoria Cartagena), John's wife. Both of their respective worlds are shattered however after John mysteriously kills himself in his squad car during a routine call. (Wait a second, didn't we already look at this show?) Said event makes Grogan radioactive to everyone (after all, how could he have not seen the signs?) not to mention himself. The department shrink wants him to "take his days" but he'll hear nothing of it, as we're already well into chapter seven of the Stereotypical-Tough-Cops-On-TV-Handbook. Also reading from the aforementioned book are Mike, who by internalizing everything freezes Lizzie and their kids out; and Tim, who doesn't let Hope see how scared he actually is, especially after his gun is stolen during a scuffle with a crazed crackhead. The latter event doesn't take Nostradamus to figure out more bad things are coming as the thief winds up killing a liquor store owner with Tim's gun during a holdup, further adding to Tim's guilt. Thankfully the unhinged Grogan also runs into the guy and puts two in his chest - he just forgets to mention that he's a cop before doing so. In the end, the various icy cops start to thaw a little to their respective significant others - even Grogan, revealed to have been having an affair with John's wife.
What works: If you like your cops shows bland and vanilla, this is your show. If not...
What doesn't: ...you've got a long hour ahead of you. Mind-numblingly predictable and unapologetically formulaic, "Protect & Serve" every bit the show you expect and then some. From it's soulful montage sequences to its tough-guys-that-drive-away-their-supportive-gals character stock, there's nothing here you haven't seen before - and done better - elsewhere. In fact the only "new" twist is the previously mentioned Google Maps overlay of Los Angeles, which comes across more of a footnote than an actual differentiator. In its defense, I'll take this show's vanilla take on the cop procedural over the randomly disjointed craziness of FOX's "The Apostles" any day. But that pointless "Sophie's Choice" hair splitting aside, this is definitely a show one shouldn't feel bad about losing to the studio vaults for all time.
The bottom line: I think the whole bland and vanilla part says it all.