May 11, 1992 12:00 PM

NBC (Mon., May 11, 9 P.M. ET)

B

NBC’s desultory series of In the Line of Duty movies, inspired by real law-enforcement events, finally sparks to life. Mario Van Peebles and Michael Boatman are a pair of New York City Housing Authority policemen, patrolling the crack-infested projects in the same Brooklyn neighborhood in which they grew up.

One of them has to die. That, after all, is the officer-down premise of these films. Afterward, the survivor becomes bent on avenging his partner’s death. Ray Sharkey and Peter Boyle play seasoned detectives assigned to the case. Morris Chestnut and Courtney B. Vance are on the other side of the law.

The narrative is a little scattered, and the tone too heavy-handed. But the movie is atmospheric in a way that recalls New Jack City, which was directed by Van Peebles. This project even uses rap music on the sound track. That’s been commonplace in feature films for a couple of years, but on TV it’s still the epitome of hipness.

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