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Review: 'The Unusuals'

April 7, 2009 |  3:15 pm

A promising comedic New York City police drama, “The Unusuals” premieres tonight on ABC, which has just laid to rest its formerly promising fantasy New York City police drama, "Life on Mars."

I suppose there will always be a New York City police drama on TV, of one flavor or another, not even counting the next 50 years of "Law & Order." (ABC has another currently up, the romantic New York City police drama, "Castle.") "The Closer" and "Life" and the new "Southland" may make a good case for the local variety, but nothing says urban social breakdown like what goes on in an imaginary Manhattan precinct house.

As its name portends, "The Unusuals" runs more to the fanciful than to the faithful -- closer to "Barney Miller" than to, say, "Kojak," though not as good as either. Populated by a cast of mostly eccentric capital-C Characters who are nevertheless capable of getting the job done, the show sets its tone with a series of voice-over bulletins that dot tonight's episode like the loudspeaker announcements in "MASH": "Be on the lookout for a man in a hot dog costume last seen running west on Houston Street. Suspect may or may not be wielding a samurai sword," and so on. It's the sort of affair that might have starred George Segal 30 or 40 years ago, possibly wearing a mustache -- an accouterment much in evidence here.

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(Photo courtesy ABC)