Picks and Pans Review: Karen Sisco

updated 10/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET)
CRIME DRAMA

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Pardon a little post-Gigli piling-on, but the 1998 film version of Elmore Leonard's novel Out of Sight would have been even better with an actress more interesting than Jennifer Lopez in the female lead.

Problem solved. This promising new series, adapted from the movie with some of the grit removed, stars Carla Gugino (Spy Kids) as Miami-based U.S. marshal Karen Sisco. Like Lopez, Gugino is a looker who can be tough, but she makes the character more open, more alive. Karen is a tad softer now, yet still fully capable of dropping any fugitive foolish enough to think a woman won't shoot.

The role of Karen's private-eye dad, played by Dennis Farina on the big screen, has been expanded and handed over to reliable Robert Forster (Jackie Brown). The senior Sisco keeps in almost constant cell-phone contact with Karen, giving her professional and personal advice while he nonchalantly goes about his own business of tailing insurance scammers and wayward husbands. His aphorisms tend toward the banal ("Ya learn by doin'.... Sometimes ya learn by doin' wrong"), but the character is so colorful that I can already see him as a spinoff candidate.

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