News & Features » Miscellany

The show is formulaic, but chemistry and crisp writing make "The District" worth watching.

Good Cop

Jack Mannion is a take-no-prisoners, politically incorrect, kick-ass kinda guy with a sysadmin's faith in computer technology — just what D.C. needs to take control of its police department, clean it up and make the nation's capital safe for democracy. And on the inside, he's just a big teddy bear. Naturally, everybody welcomes him to Washington with undisguised hostility. That's the "The District," and Craig T. Nelson fits the part perfectly. Nelson's character is based on a real-life cop, former New York Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple, and "The District" is inspired by Maple's real-life experiences. Mannion is hired by Washington's mayor (John Amos) at the urging of his deputy (Jayne Brook), who'd like to see her hometown cleaned up. The cops on the beat expected the assistant chief (Roger Aaron Brown) to be promoted. The antagonism they feel toward Mannion, the interloper, is palpable. Mannion has a few people on his side, however. Among them are the force's PR rep (Justin Theroux) and statistics clerk Ella Farmer (Lynne Thigpen). One of the first things Mannion does is to put Ella in charge of a high-tech, computerized briefing room where Mannion confronts the police brass and makes them accountable for crime in the city. Then he rounds out his inner circle with a young former Marine (Sean Patrick Thomas) and a Royal Ulster Constabulary cop from Belfast (David O'Hara). Mannion first makes the former Marine his chauffeur, then gives him a gold detective's badge. Mannion next makes the brooding, no-nonsense Irish cop part of his kitchen cabinet. What distinguishes "The District" from the run-of-the-mill cop show is that Mannion spends as much time fighting City Hall as he does fighting crime. And he does it without the niceties you'd expect from the man at the top. In a city whose lifeblood is politics, Mannion's style first shocks, then enrages those he works for. But his uncanny ability to get out in front of crime and clean up the city wins him their grudging respect. There's a lot to "The District" that's strictly formulaic, but two things distinguish the series: the chemistry between Nelson and Thigpen, and the crisp - although sometimes predictable - writing style, which consistently pits Mannion's teddy-bear side against the kick-ass aspect of his personality. "The District" is in a tough spot in the CBS lineup. Saturday night is not a time when a lot of people are home watching TV. But the competition on the other networks isn't all that tough. And if you're looking for something to do before the partying gets going in earnest, or you're past that stage in your social life, "The District" "The District" is worth checking

Add a comment