09/29/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT
NBC (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET)
Return with us now to that American yesteryear before feminism, before enforcement of laws against police brutality and wife-beating and before good taste in menswear and interior design. Return with us to the early '60s in Chicago, where producer Michael (Miami Vice) Mann gives us a show about cops and mobsters. The actor who plays the star cop, Dennis Farina, is a former Chicago cop himself and his former sergeant is a story consultant on the show. I hope that when these real cops carried real guns they didn't do what the cops in Crime Story do. In the first of its three "sneak previews"—Sept. 18, 19 and 26—Farina as Lt. Mike Torello (rhymes with Furillo) puts on a mask and kidnaps a bad guy to rough him up; he beats a snitch in a dark alley; he jeopardizes civilians during a shoot-out in a crowded store; he tells lies in court and throws a book at a lawyer and he throws things at his wife too. And when he's really mad, he tells a criminal crud: "I'm gonna find what you love the most and I'm gonna kill it. Your mother, your father, your dog, doesn't matter what it is—it's dead." Not a pretty fellow. Crime Story looks like Vice in a few ways: Lights reflect on the hoods of cars (old Fords instead of new Ferraris), music plays during chases, confusion abounds, guns get fired. But Farina isn't handsome like Don Johnson; he doesn't grin or cause you to; his house looks like a tacky secondhand store with leggy couches and amoeba-shaped coffee tables; he dresses in black and white like a Blues Brother. The bad guys are Brylcreem rejects from The Pope of Greenwich Village. And there's none of the sly humor Vice had at its start (and later lost, like those other highbrow hits, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere). So you end up watching unattractive characters doing unattractive things. Not much fun to watch.