April 12, 2004 12:00 PM


USA (Fridays, 10 p.m. ET)

Welcome to USA, the network of weird crime-solvers. They’ve got obsessive-compulsive Monk and that paranormally empowered Dead Zone guy and now FBI man David Creegan (Jeffrey Donovan), who says he was “clinically dead” for 10 minutes because of a gunshot to the head and admits he was “clinically insane” for a while thereafter. The whole ordeal left him without inhibitions such as fear and shame, so he pursues murderers relentlessly and without regard for legal niceties.

Touching Evil, adapted from a British series seen on PBS, premiered March 12 with a two-hour episode that was both suspenseful and attentive to character detail. Donovan brings a bundle of quirks and a good deal of magnetism to his role, and Vera Farmiga convincingly portrays Creegan’s partner, Susan Branca, who has her own traumatic past to deal with.

Unfortunately, the show is fixated on the bizarre and gruesome. Must a killer mutilate and torture victims before setting them afire? Creegan has contempt for a crime reporter who “makes a living off of other people’s nightmares,” but Touching Evil seems to be working the same side of the street.

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