Picks and Pans Review: Wanted

updated 08/22/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/2005 01:00AM

TNT (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)
CRIME

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Gary Cole is always worth watching—an actor of restrained craft and no phony baloney. Over on West Wing, he's vice president. Here he's Conrad "Connie" Rose, head of an elite squad chasing down Los Angeles's 100 most wanted. So far, the show can be shockingly violent—a blurry closeup of a face split open by a bullet was yuck—but the enemies (Korean gang members, Serbian war criminals) tend to have less oomph than their high-grade arsenals. And Connie's cell—which includes a computer whiz with tattoos and piercings (Josey Scott) and an unlikely fresh recruit, a woman from naval intelligence (Rashida Jones)—hasn't gelled. Some good performers are in place, though, including Lee Tergesen (Oz). His thin lips framed by a red fu manchu, Tergesen plays one of Connie's standout trainees from the police academy. It also turns out that he had a recent affair with Connie's estranged wife (DeDee Pfeiffer) and may, in truth, still be having that fling.

Whatever the show's flaws, Cole, moving always at a precise clip and with a ramrod bearing, has the spine to keep it all together. Surprisingly, he's at his best in the personal scenes. Trying to make sense of his still flirting relationship with his wife or improve the spotty companionship he provides to his son (Chris J. Kelly), he doesn't go soft, just yields enough to become momentarily fully human. Then he snaps back to form. When two of his crew debate his judgment, he says, "I will beat you both until your heart stops." And most likely you'll believe him.

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