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TNT's 'Rizzoli & Isles' is DOA

Published: Sunday, July 11 2010 5:25 p.m. MDT

Angie Harmon, left, and Sasha Alexander star in the new TNT series "Rizolli & Isles."

Eric Ogden, TNT

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Wow. The new series "Rizzoli & Isles" isn't just bad, it's really bad.

So bad it's hard to know where to begin.

This derivative mish-mash apes countless TV series that have gone before. Badly.

It's full of stereotypes and characters who are so fake they're flatter than your average low-budget cartoon.

But there's nothing at all childish about "Rizzoli & Isles." The series opens with torture and murder, and there's more than enough gore to go around.

And then there's the necrophilia subplot. Lovely.

The two leads are based on characters created by author Tess Gerritsen, who has written a series of novels featuring Rizzoli and Isles.

In the series, Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon of "Law & Order") is a tough-as-nails Boston homicide detective. She's got a stereotypical, over-protective Italian-American mother (Lorraine Bracco of "The Sopranos") and brother (Jordan Bridges of "Dawson's Creek"). And she says stereotypical things.

Like when an FBI agent shows up and she blurts, "You fed boys, you like to show up, take the bat and the ball."

What, did writer/executive producer Janet Tamaro ("Bones") have a book of police-show cliches she was working from?

Sasha Alexander ("NCIS") plays medical examiner Maura Isles — a nice person who doesn't have much in the way of social skills.

They're supposed to be pals. They're supposed to have friendly chemistry.

But the dialogue is so bad, it's hard to tell.

"Oh my (gosh), you're flirting over a dead body," Rizzoli says in Episode 2.

"When else am I going to do it?" Isles replies.

The attempts at humor are so at odds with the rest of the episode, it's jarring.

As are the attempts at quirkiness, which seem like they were dropped in by a room full of writers saying to each other, "Gee, how can we make this quirky?"

To that end, Isles has a pet tortoise who is "partial to British strawberries."

British strawberries?

Rizzoli's young partner (Lee Thompson Young of "FlashForward") throws up at the sight of blood. And then there's Rizzoli's encounter with a dog.

In Monday's premiere, Tamaro makes the bizarre choice to start with an old case. New murders follow the pattern of a serial killer who almost killed Rizzoli once upon a time.

Which leads to the entirely predictable scene in which Rizzoli confronts the guy in prison. A not particularly secure prison, as it turns out.

Not to give too much away, but the case takes a few ludicrous turns as the hour advances. Would you believe a tie to, ahem, national security?

And, gee, for a supposedly street-smart cop, Rizzoli is sure easy to fool.

Utterly unbelievable plot developments are not a one-episode phenomenon, unfortunately. Episode 2 opens with a bunch of cops playing baseball, and a body is tossed off an overpass into the outfield.

And the plot of Episode 2 involves the nearly 50-year-old Boston Strangler case.

Clearly, "Rizzoli & Isles" is not a documentary. It's a police show. And there's not a single police show that real cops would agree is like real life.

The key is to make a show that seems plausible while it's entertaining viewers.

"Rizzoli & Isles" is so ludicrous it's not in the same zip code as plausible. And that's even before each of the first two episodes reaches ridiculous climaxes.

Dumb and dumber.

Not everything is awful. Stars Harmon and Alexander are likable, despite the fact that they're trapped in this awful series.

Honestly, it's hard not to feel sorry for them.

And for anyone who wastes an hour of their life on a show as bad as "Rizzoli & Isles."

If you watch:

When: Monday, 8 and 10:05 p.m.

Channel: TNT

The bottom line: This new police series is almost astonishingly bad. Unless this was supposed to be comedy, it misses the mark by a mile.

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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