Start your week off on a high note with four scripted dramas that will add some sex, humor and intelligent crime drama to your Monday nights. These quick hit reviews will give you the highlights you need to know and enough of a tease to match the right show with the right viewer. Fire up those DVRs and enjoy!
MAJOR CRIMES (TNT)
WHY IT'S A BEST BET: Not only is this spin-off from THE CLOSER a thousand times better than the show that birthed it, a first rate cast and smart writing keep the drama crackling. MAJOR CRIMES manages to mix hard-hitting police action with well-placed flourishes of humor and emotional drama. Veterans Mary McDonnell, Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan and G.W. Baily anchor an exceptional cast that also includes fine work from Raymond Cruz, Phillip P Keene, Kearran Giovanni and Graham Patrick Martin (one of the best young actors on series television).
WHO SHOULD WATCH: Anyone who enjoys a crime drama that mixes the best elements of police procedurals with serialized storylines. Extra points if you don’t need a neat and tidy resolution at the end of every hour. Like a moral quandary? MAJOR CRIMES has you covered.
MAJOR CRIMES airs Mondays at 9PM E/P on TNT.
MURDER IN THE FIRST (TNT)
WHY IT'S A BEST BET: Two big reasons: Taye Diggs stars and Steven Bochco is one of the creators. The supporting players include James Cromwell, Steven Webber and Richard Schiff. Unlike typical police procedurals, newcomer MURDER IN THE FIRST will follow a single case across the entire season. Sound familiar? TV trivia points for you! This is the same format used in the 1995/96 first season of MURDER ONE, also from Bochco.
WHO SHOULD WATCH: Fans of Diggs who have their fingers crossed that he’ll finally take the lead in a series that lasts more than one season (and showcases his talent a bit better than the tepid PRIVATE PRACTICE). Also, if you are looking for a return to gritty form by Bochco, this could be just the fix you’ve been longing for.
MURDER IN THE FIRST airs Mondays at 10PM E/P on TNT.
WHY IT'S A BEST BET: I hate westerns. Seriously, can’t stand them. Maybe that’s why it took Netflix to expose me to this excellent A&E original. Robert Taylor plays Walt Longmire, a weather-beaten Wyoming sheriff who is as moody as he earnest. The cast that also includes Lou Diamond Phillips and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA vet Katee Sackhoff, both doing some of the best work of their careers. LONGMIRE is first-class stuff.
WHO SHOULD WATCH: Anyone who makes public proclamations that they hate western-themed things as well as those who feel the exact opposite. Be warned: LONGMIRE has a unique pace and “feel” that might not work for those who require non-stop, in-your-face action. If you’re looking for intriguing police mystery with a side of thoughtful introspection, aim your long gun at LONGMIRE and tune in.
LONGMIRE airs Mondays at 10PM E/P on A&E.
WHY IT'S A BEST BET: After three hours of crime time, check your brain at the door and fire up your libido! It’s time for the slutty antics of MISTRESSES. The catch here is an interesting yin/yang of tawdry soap opera storylines being interpreted by a genuinely talented quartet of lead actors. Alyssa Milano (who has never looked better), LOST alum Yunjin Kim (as the worst therapist…ever), Rochelle Aytes (who is so insanely beautiful you’ll get lost in her eyes) and Jes Macallan (a genuine find). This stateside re-make of a UK series made my “Summer Guilty Pleasures” list last year. Thus far, season two has not disappointed.
WHO SHOULD WATCH: Well, no one really but you shouldn’t suck down potato chips and hot fudge sundaes either. Yes, girls and gays are the core viewers here but I know more than a few straight guys who are rarely disappointed by the often eye-popping sexual escapades. Speaking of eye-popping, Justin Hartley drops in this season as does newcomer Ricky Whittle. Ricky who? See below and thank me later.
MISTRESSES airs Mondays at 10PM E/P on ABC.