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The Bridge -- TV Review

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Opening amid the dirtiest of cop crimes, "The Bridge" is a muscular new police series for CBS that has early potential.

As a clutch of cops outside their jurisdiction illegally raid a drug dealer's home, they're confronted by the on-duty local constabulary -- and the tense standoff that ensues is taut and eye-opening, a killer way to open a show that, in its best moments, echoes "The Shield."

Alas, there are not enough of those moments, and "Bridge" quickly loses focus. More disappointingly, it turns out to be another E1 Entertainment cop show done on the cheap out of Canada, a la the irritating "Rookie Blue," which recently debuted on ABC. Both series are generic, vaguely alien, no-town police shows, serving up painfully off-key cop talk -- "Sometimes I think the world is held together by nothing but God's tears" -- as the judicial elements strive so hard to be American. But the translation is lost.

There are intriguing elements amid the clutter: Policeman Frank Leo (Aaron Douglas) is a beefy, moral man of the people who in the process of rallying the troops becomes a target for the police brass; two fellow cops cause an out-of-control teen's death and refreshingly focus on the impact on their careers rather than the enormity of what they have done; and then there are those dirty police -- a loose end that is not tied up in a neat bow by pilot's end. This is good, gray-area stuff that deserves a better framing device.

Instead, Frank and his compatriots are stuck in a washed-out version of a vaguely Toronto-like city in which the rich and poor are separated by a bridge (really) where the focus is on unions and class distinctions and people use "bloody" as an epithet.

It ain't here, and it ain't there, and the middle is a lonely, bloodless place.

Fine. Costs and the fluctuating dollar mean Canada likely will soon recoup its status as a haven for budget-conscious series, but is there a reason a new cop show can't own its Canadian-ness? Producers, just make a show about Toronto cops already. Surely, that would have more authenticity and grit than the washed-out guff paraded in "Rookie" and "Bridge." That's a series that might actually hook the non-Canadian public so clearly being desired.

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Saturday, July 10 (CBS)
Production: E1 Entertainment, 990 Multi Media Entertainment, Jonsworth Prods. in association with CTV and CBS Television Studios
Cast: Aaron Douglas, Paul Popowich, Inga Cadranel, Frank Cassini, Theresa Joy, Ona Grauer, Michael Murphy, Genadijs Dolganovs
Executive producers: Alan Di Fiore, Craig Bromell, Adam Shully, Laszlo Barna, Robert Wertheimer
Creators: Alan Di Fiore, Craig Bromell, Adam Shully
Writer: Alan Di Fiore
Director: John Fawcett
Director of photography: Thom Best
Production designer: Oleg Savytski
Costume designer: Arthur Rowsell
Casting: Larissa Mair