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Scott D. Pierce: 'Glades' is pretty good; 'Bridge' is surprising

Published: Friday, July 9 2010 3:00 p.m. MDT

Matt Passmore stars in the new A&E series "The Glades."

Gene Page, A&E

When you sit down to watch a police drama titled "The Glades," which is set in southern Florida, you can pretty much expect three things:

First, swampy everglades.

Second, 'gators.

Third, murder victims whose gory remains have been partially eaten by 'gators.

Well, we're batting three for three in "The Glades." All in the first eight minutes.

But, hang on a minute. With a show like this — a show about a super-smart, super smart-alecky police detective — it's not about the concept, it's about the execution. The characters. The actors.

And "The Glades" looks like a winner on those counts.

The extremely personable Matt Passmore stars as Jim Longworth, a brilliant-but-quirky homicide detective who was run out of the Chicago P.D. Unfairly, of course.

You know he's quirky right off the bat when you hear the message on his cellphone: "Hey, you've reached Jim Longworth. I'm either out seeking justice or trying to break 80."

Jim does enjoy a game of golf. And when he's called in on a case, he doesn't want to interrupt his latest round.

"Well, she's not going to be any deader an hour from now," he says.

Jim lands in the small town of Palm Glade, Fla., which, fortunately for him and for the show, has a lot more crime than you might think.

Why, right off the bat there's a partially eaten corpse floating in a backwater. There aren't many clues — heck, there isn't even a head — but he's the man for the job.

"I am an expert on all things homicidal. … There isn't much about murder I don't know," he says. "Or can't figure out. If I just keep asking the right questions."

Yes, there are certain similarities to "Dexter." Except in the case of "The Glades," our hero isn't a serial killer.

When he's not solving murders, he's trying to get a date with Callie (Kiele Sanchez), a beautiful nurse with a 12-year-old son and a husband in prison.

When he is trying to solve a murder, he's trading quips with his buddy the medical examiner (Carlos Gómez), fighting with his boss (Michelle Hurd) and trying to avoid wearing his uniform.

That's one of his quirks.

The case in the pilot episode is interesting and not as predictable as it first appears. More importantly, Jim is an appealing character with a dry sense of humor.

Like when, with the help of a reptile expert, he figures out which alligator ate part of his victim, pulls out a gun and shoots it.

"That animal's protected!" exclaims the reptile expert.

"Then how come I had such a clear shot?" Jim asks.

Pretty funny.

And "The Glades" looks pretty good.

MOST COP SHOWS follow a broad pattern. It's good guys vs. bad guys. Cops vs. criminals.

It's a little more complicated than that in "The Bridge."

Sure, there are cops chasing bad guys in this Canadian drama imported by CBS. But some of the bad guys are cops.

Actually, quite a few of the bad guys are cops.

Aaron Douglas ("Battlestar Galactica") stars as Frank Leo, a veteran cop who can see that something is wrong within his department. When some of his fellow cops get thrown to the wolves by their superiors instead of getting the support they deserve, he leads a wildcat strike.

Before long, he's the head of the police union, battling corrupt cops and sleazy superiors.

Episodes are not altogether stand-alone; there's a narrative through-line that builds from hour to hour.

CBS airs the first two of 13 episodes back-to-back on Saturday; subsequent episodes are scheduled to air one at a time on Saturdays at 7 p.m.

Not that it's a bad thing to have a rather promising show on normally barren Saturday nights, but it is curious. And it signals that CBS didn't quite know what to make of this show, which it bought from CTV.

It's not your average CBS police procedural, with good guys solving the crime by the end of the hour. It's serialized and complicated, unlike the network's other Canadian import, "Flashpoint."

You get the feeling CBS is dumping "The Bridge" on Saturdays.

Too bad. Because it looks like one of the better original offerings on any of the broadcast networks this summer.

If you watch

What: "The Glades"

When: Sunday, 11 p.m.

Channel: A&E

What: "The Bridge"

When: Saturday, 7 and 8 p.m.

Channel: CBS/Ch. 2

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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