Rizzoli & Isles -- TV Review

Rizzoli and Isles Summer Finale - H 2012
Darren Michaels/TNT

Rizzoli and Isles Summer Finale - H 2012



Liking TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles" is a matter of taste, but it's hard to disagree with one fact: It has been far too long since two female law officers were the axis of a successful TV show. (Call me if you think of something more recent than "Cagney & Lacey.")

But "R&I" is better than just being a fresh new milestone for one gender; in fact, based on the pilot, it's hard to find a false note in the new TNT series. It jolts along with humor, suspense, insight and a fair amount of oozing blood.

Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) are two mismatched lone wolves with some social issues whose friendship is just beginning to bud -- a working-class gal (Rizzoli) with a tough demeanor who vacuums when she's thinking and a glamour gal (Isles) with a pet tortoise who grew up dying to dissect. The two still are tiptoeing around their connection but have a mutually admiring, believable chemistry.

In an interesting decision, the series kicks off with a plot that's more season finale than pilot: A serial killer who once held Rizzoli captive escapes and, along with an apprentice slasher, goes after her again. The gore count is high -- this is cable, after all -- but so is the character development; there's more here in just one hour than many series get to in a season's worth of episodes.

To top it all off, there's the comic relief of Rizzoli's over-involved family. Her mother (the brilliantly cast Lorraine Bracco) and brother (Jordan Bridges) are deeply invested in her police work and safety, and it's nice to see a cop whose job hasn't ruined her family. (Although where their Boston accents have disappeared to is another mystery altogether.)

So there is much to admire in the first hour of "R&I," but it ends oddly. Having spent most of the episode building to an important resolution in a primary character's life, the show backs away from the crisis ... leaving Rizzoli focused on cleaning up her apartment. The abdication of repercussions from the earlier goings-on is strangely off-key in a show that otherwise hits all the right notes. But perhaps this is where Episode 2 begins. Let's hope so, because "Rizzoli & Isles" is a beat that's well-worth walking.

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Monday, July 12 (TNT)
Production: Warner Horizon Television, Hurdler Prods., Ostar Prods.
Cast: Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Lorraine Bracco, Bruce McGill, Lee Thompson Young, Jordan Bridges
Executive producers: Janet Tamaro, Bill Haber, Joel Fields
Developed by: Janet Tamaro
Writers: Janet Tamaro, David Gould
Consulting producers: Dave Caplan, Michael M. Robin, Alison Cross
Producers: Chris Griffin, Bonnie Weiss
Directors: Michael M. Robin, Roxann Dawson, Arvin Brown, Matt Penn, Nelson McCormick, Elodie Keene, Mark Haber, Adam Arkin
Director of photography: Anthony Hardwick
Production designer: Stephen Marsh
Costume designer: Bob Blackman
Casting: Eric Dawson, Liz Dean