Picks and Pans Review: Feds

UPDATED 03/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

B-

As executive producer, Dick Wolf essentially takes his Law & Order concept to a higher level of government in this series, as New York City federal prosecutors and FBI agents join to fight crime. There are differences: The conferences are more crowded with guys in uniform—dark suit, white or blue shirt, understated tie (shoulder holster optional)—and each episode tracks more than a single case. In the series' premiere on Mar. 5 at least, more amounts to less.

A black assistant U.S. attorney (Regina Taylor) must try a black cop for beating a skinhead who taunted him with a racial epithet. Provocative situation, muddled conclusion. Another prosecutor (Adrian Pasdar) wants to tie an airline crash to the pilot's preflight boozing. Lacking solid proof, he pulls an implausible courtroom trick. An ongoing story line involves a third fed (John Slattery) out to nail the Mafioso (George Dicenzo) who ordered the murder of his wife and children. The prosecutor's anguish seems real; the gangster is a cartoon.

The regular cast is strong, topped by Blair Brown as the U.S. attorney. Let's hope she'll have more to do than restrain her assistants' zeal.

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