In a nation obsessed with nostalgia, the Sixties have emerged in recent years as America’s favorite decade to look back on. Debuting tonight on TNT, Public Morals isn’t going to replace the now over and gone Mad Men as a portal to that time. Still, as my video review above says, while the Ed Burns created, directed and starring NYPD series isn’t very original, it does have a very strong supporting cast that you will want to watch.
Burns plays Public Morals Division officer Terry Muldoon, a man very much of his time and feeling the changes of the era and his profession. Caught up in the long tradition of the blurred and corrupt lines between the two sides of the law, Muldoon has some very complicated family relationships in the Irish dominated underworld of Hell’s Kitchen. He also has a number of colleagues, like the Wass Stevens’-played Vince Latucci and the Ruben Santiago-Hudson portrayed Lt. Lonnie King, who often don’t seem to be wearing their white hats. The scripts of the Steven Spielberg EP’d show are sharper and often smarter than the procedural standard, but, like I said, not something you haven’t seen many times before.
Where Public Morals stands out is with its bad guys – the characters and the actors who portray them.
Timothy Hutton is in top form as Muldoon’s bookmaker uncle Mr. O. The Oscar winner and American Crime Emmy nominee is joined by outstanding performances from Brian Dennehy and Neal McDonough. The former plays West Side Irish Mob boss Joe Patton, while the latter plays his volatile and violent son Rusty – a man who is looking to move up in the world and will step over whoever he has to getting there. While not a baddie, Elizabeth Masucci as Terry’s longing-to-get-out-of-the city wife Christine also adds a deeper texture to the show.
So take a look at my review of Public Morals and tell us what you think. Are you going to watch tonight?