March 27, 2006 12:00 PM

NBC (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET)


A master robber takes his new team out to L.A.’s Rodeo Drive, pointing out the jewelry stores they’re going to hit in one elaborate heist—timed to the Oscars. “We go during Academy Awards week,” he explains, “when the most expensive jewelry on the planet will be moving through these stores.” It almost sounds as if Billy Bush had turned to a life of crime.

But the first episode of this projected 13-part series has real bite. That’s probably because it’s directed as well as co-executive produced by Doug Liman, a filmmaker who has dependably brought a special touch—slick, nervy, unsentimental—to thrillers like The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The premiere tends to overlay what should be simple suspense scenes with too much pseudo-smart-cynical patter. (Would thieves really debate whether Mother Teresa had suffered a spiritual crisis?) And as the leader, Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2) is focused, smooth, softly weathered, nothing like Billy Bush, only you might wish for someone with more streetwise grit, a Benicio Del Toro. But then the show delivers an incident of such callous, casual violence—as mean as anything out of Quentin Tarantino—that you may need a few moments to process what you’ve just seen. The show has guts, in more ways than one.

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