Empty11 p.m. Wednesday, April 2
What "Cops" is to local law enforcement, Spike TV's "DEA" is to federal anti-drug efforts. Over the course of six episodes from Al Roker (yes, the weatherman) Entertainment and Size 12 Prods., we see Drug Enforcement Administration agents at work, or at least a highly condensed, tightly edited version.
Stripped of the paperwork, interviews, meetings and the waiting, "DEA" is just one raid after the next, separated by "buy walks," "buy busts" and the ever-popular "flip."
The show is set in Detroit, which we are told is the homicide capital of America. To add to the suspense, we are constantly reminded that at any moment, something could go terribly wrong. Nothing does, however. At least, not in the premiere.
The series accomplishes its narrow ambition to show the DEA in action and the high level of camaraderie within the unit. It also obliquely raises questions about American drug policy -- one agent says many of those arrested are good people who made bad decisions -- but it never goes beyond that.
Considering that 1% of all American adults are in jail and that drug violations are the biggest reason, a better series might be one that examines drug policy and enforcement philosophy.