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Television review: 'The Glades' on A&E

Matt Passmore plays a Florida state trooper who tries not to let his crime-solving interfere with his golf.

July 10, 2010|By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

Another day, another cocky, good-looking, maverick TV detective in another out-of-the-way town. This time we are in South Florida, for "The Glades," premiering Sunday on A&E. That network has not produced much original scripted drama, but with mysteries taking off all over basic cable — "The Glades" is created by Clifton Campbell from USA's "White Collar," with Gary Randall, from TNT's "Saving Grace" as an executive producer — it must have seemed like a smart investment; and the show they've delivered is an accomplished if occasionally vexing affair.

Matt Passmore plays Jim Longworth — sounds like "Jim Rockford" to me — a former Chicago policeman who moved south after being shot by his captain. (It was a case of mistaken adultery.) Longworth has taken his settlement and settled in fictional Palm Glades, where he has joined the local branch of the state police, a job he hopes will not interfere with his golf. (When he's called away in the middle of a round to assess a headless corpse, he declares his ball a crime scene not to be disturbed.) "Trust me," he says, "if it ever gets too busy or dangerous, I'm out of here."

As the show opens, he's still sort of new in town, although not so new that he hasn't already made an enemy of his partner and a pal of the medical examiner, Carlos Sanchez (Carlós Gomez). Apart from not playing by the rules — "Unorthodox? Try nuts!" cries Carlos when Jim wants to cut open an alligator to find that missing head — his signal quality is that, in his talkative self-confidence, he is kind of irritating. Not pathologically obnoxious, like old Doc House — more like someone that might have annoyed you in high school, a little too handsome for his own good, a little too smart for yours. But, though he is meant to be irritating in a charming way, irritating is still irritating.

This can ring false or taste sour at times, as when he leans on a couple of teenage suspects, but Passmore largely pulls it off, in part by making the character a bit daffy; he just can't help himself. And the producers surround him with jerks and dweebs and men less handsome or clever than himself to ensure that he's the person with whom we identify and whose opinions we share; the plot conveniently supports his genius. It's an old TV trick.

Kiele Sanchez (Nikki on "Lost") plays Longworth's equally sparky object of unresolved sexual tension, a nurse and medical student with a 12-year-old son and a husband in prison for armed robbery; she gives tit for tat. And though she does not appear in the pilot, Michelle Hurd will come around soon as Longworth's superior. Oh, I can hear their heads butting from here.

Swampy, sandy Florida also plays its part. The production, which is handsome without looking slick, makes good use of the subtropical local color. It's an eccentric state: The Ringling Brothers lived there, and so did Al Capone; prehistoric reptiles roam there still. There are a lot of possibilities here, in the landscape and in this series alike.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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