March 08, 1993 12:00 PM

NBC (Wed., March 3, 10 p.m. ET)


No, it’s not Dostoyevski, but a new series from the creator of Law & Order. It seeks in a similar fashion to put a fresh narrative twist on the familiar cop show genre. So we get to see the criminals plotting their heist and carrying it out. But the show’s big gimmick is that periodically through the hour, both the cops (Jon Tenney and Rachel Ticotin) and the perpetrators are seated against a black background and questioned by an unseen mystery interrogator (voice of James Sloyan) about their activities and strategies.

Seeing the crime planned and executed is just a rehash of the old Columbo concept. And the omniscient questioner is an annoying contrivance. (What is he supposed to be? The voice of conscience? The Shadow? Katie Couric’s father?) Then too, neither Tenney nor Ticotin is particularly convincing as a cop. Still, the show is fast-paced, intricately plotted and features good guest star villains, including John Glover, Xander Berkeley and Nick Cassavetes.

The following night, in an act of programming euthanasia, Crime & Punishment moves into L.A. Law’s slot for four weeks, pulling that increasingly desperate show on hiatus.

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