9 p.m. Tuesday on TNT
8 p.m. Thursday on WLS-Channel 7
The life of a cop is tough enough without having to suffer disrespectful depictions on TV. For every Andy Sipowicz, there's a Barney Fife or Clancy Wiggums -- and pink doughnuts aren't far behind. It's not right. We ask our police officers to put themselves in danger on the street; the least we could do is not submit them to character assassination on the small screen.
Unfortunately, ABC's new "Rookie Blue" is not going to do much for their image. It's not that we're faced with corrupt or abusive cops - nothing like that. No, it's worse: We meet a group of drop-dead gorgeous newbies, who are so eager they could pass for puppies.
Note to ABC: This territory has been covered, rather thoroughly, by the "Police Academy" series. And the young men and women on "Rookie Blue" can't even make funny noises.
Missy Peregrym ("Reaper") plays Andy, whose cop father is going through a "rough patch." She looks like a kinder, gentler Hilary Swank, and we can already predict what her storyline will be: To absorb Important Lessons while earning Respect and Trust.
Of course the veteran cops roll their eyes at the young 'uns; of course issues will be worked out in the locker room, while stripping down; of course it's a bad idea to go in the abandoned building alone. "Rookie Blue" makes every rookie mistake there is.
And the main message going out to the public about new police recruits? "They're so cute!"
There's another new show that police can be proud of, though. TNT's "Memphis Beat" is brought to you by the production team of George Clooney and Grant Heslov, not to mention the ghost of Elvis.
Jason Lee of "My Name Is Earl" fame stars, and as actors go, he's a real original - a former pro skateboarder who has been in projects as varied as "Mallrats," "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Almost Famous." Any man who names his son Pilot Inspektor has got to be a fearless artist.
He plays a police detective named Dwight who protects the integrity of Memphis by day, and sings the blues at night. He's not an Elvis impersonator; he's more of an Elvis interpreter, and a sexy one at that.
Some scenes were filmed in New Orleans, including the famed Tipitina's. Lee has confessed that it's not really him singing, though; "My voice didn't quite cut it," he said.
Lee's main costar is Memphis. The music! The cars! The food! The sweat! They lay it on a bit thick, what with Lee starting nearly every sentence with "The way we do it down here . . ." I'm hopeful that future episodes will be more subtle. But Dwight's reverence for his city is touching, and the looks he shoots his partner are hysterical. Watching him climb a tree house to play Barbies with a witness is worth the price of admission.
"Memphis Beat's" version of a rookie is character actor DJ Qualls, who looks the way his name sounds. And Alfre Woodard - who's also putting in appearances on "True Blood" - plays Dwight's new boss. "I ain't the babysitter, Dwight," she tells her new charge. "Mama's home. Act right."
If you're looking for a new cop drama to serve and protect your entertainment interests, leave the rookies alone to ripen, and go for a ride-along with Jason Lee's Dwight. Blue suede shoes not required.