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TV REVIEW

'Prince' a Formulaic Cop Story

March 06, 1997|HOWARD ROSENBERG

NBC's new undercover cop series, "Prince Street," hits you with some style, but not much else.

It begs comparison with NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street," an even showier, less traditional cop series that uses technique only in service of a story. It's vice versa on the formulaic "Prince Street" premiere.

Lt. Tom Warner (Joe Morton) is the obligatory stern yet benevolent squad leader here. Although lots of interesting police faces pass across the screen, Warner's featured operatives are Jimmy Tassio (Lawrence Monoson), Nina Echeverria (Mariska Hargitay), Tony Libretti (Steven Martini) and Alex Gage (Vincent Spano), who is shaken tonight by the murder of his partner in a sting of Russian mobsters. He's weighing vengeance until Warner reminds him he's part of a team, not a loner.

Supposedly inspired by true events, "Prince Street" at times sounds like bunch of Stanley Kowalskis with badges ("I was dere, Jimmy. I let him walk right into it"). Other times, it recalls everyone playing dress-up on "Mission: Impossible."

When not talking on the phone to her 9-year-old son about his baseball game, for example, Echeverria is gussying herself up as a Latin arms dealer to penetrate a group of Peruvian terrorists searching for a suitable target to blow up. They all meet at night, and naturally there's a problem as the second half of the premiere deteriorates into a routine female-in-jeopardy tale driven by up-tempo music. But no suspense or compelling plot, unfortunately.

* "Prince Street" premieres tonight at 10 on NBC. It moves to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. starting March 12.

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