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Television Reviews : 'Case Closed': Cop Story That Can't Find the Beat

April 19, 1988|DON SHIRLEY

A brash young black cop (Byron Allen) enlists the aid of a retired white one (Charles Durning) to solve a string of murders. You'd expect them to get on each other's nerves at first, then earn each other's respect in time for the grand finale, right?

"Case Closed" (Channels 2 and 8 at 9 tonight) departs from the formula only in that these two cops hardly bother to get on each other's nerves. Almost from their first moment together, they toss around good-natured banter, as if they were veteran partners as well as old friends.

With that particular conflict eliminated, the writers (co-star Allen and Steve Crider) have to rely on the criminals for dramatic tension. Their comings and goings are routine fare. This isn't the kind of movie that gives the bad guys a fighting chance.

So what's left to interest us? Well, there is the sight of Durning's belly protruding over his bright-orange pants in his opening scene, at a golf course. Christopher Neame makes a sinister villain.

But what's most notable about "Case Closed" is its string of old-fashioned naughty-boy remarks, uttered by both cops. Would you believe that the young cop, distracted by a pretty woman, says abreast when he means arrest? Sophisticated, huh?

Dick Lowry directed the action sequences with more flair than he brought to what might fairly be called the inaction sequences.

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