Picks and Pans Review: Missing Persons

updated 08/30/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/30/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Mon., Aug. 30, 9 p.m. ET)

C+

Daniel J. Travanti lands back on series TV not far from where he jumped off in 1987. But there are some key variances between Lt. Ray McAuliffe of the Chicago Missing Persons squad and Capt. Frank Furillo of the Hill Street station house: McAuliffe is more hot-headed, by-the-book, and isn't averse to using mind games to keep his staff motivated. Much of McAuliffe's attitude can be explained by the fact that he's a former street hound now shackled to a desk after a hail of bullets nearly took his life in the Cabrini Green housing project.

Missing Persons tries to copy the gritty urban flavor and punchy tempo of NBC's Law & Order without succeeding on either front. And it shreds TV's already thin fabric of plausibility and common sense. In this two-hour pilot, one cop (Erik King) entraps a murder suspect by impersonating a pimp. Then after taunting the killer for being fooled, the cop leaves this man, who has a history of brutality to women, alone in a hotel room with the laughing prostitute who just helped sign his death warrant.

Besides Travanti, the only cast member who stands out is newcomer Jorjan Fox, who brings a plucky charm to her role as the squad's junior member. In three weeks this stale show will settle into its regular slot: Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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