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Article

South Beach

Posted on

South Beach

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
performer:
Yancy Butler, John Glover, Rob Knepper
genre:
Crime

We gave it an A-

Remember the pastel palette of Michael Mann’s Miami Vice? Remember all that neon and pink and blue? Well, kiss those ’80s colors goodbye. TV producer Dick Wolf is in Miami now, and seen through his shades, the world-even as fashion- forward a world as Miami’s trendy South Beach-is strictly a noirish place, all deep brown and midnight blue. Inside, everyone stays behind slatted blinds that let in knifelike spears of dangerous light. Outside, even on the sand, even in full sunlight with the ocean glinting nearby, bodies cast dark shadows, characters wear black leather and filing cabinet-gray jackets, and nobody-nobody-is uncomplicated. Wolf is at home in this color scheme. His specialty is cops, his preferred setting is urban, his characters wear their kinks and personality knots like jewelry, and his creations-Law & Order, last year’s short-lived Mann & Machine, and this year’s even shorter-lived Crime & Punishment-lie firmly on the broody end of the color spectrum. But in South Beach (NBC, June 6, 9-11 p.m. premiere; June 8 and Tuesdays thereafter, 9-10 p.m.) Wolf and series cocreator Robert De Laurentis venture into rich new visual territory in fabulous Art Deco Miami, setting their stories on the interactions of a cool con artist called Kate Patrick (Yancy Butler, the machine half of Mann & Machine) and an even colder federal agent singularly called Roberts (John Glover of Gremlins 2), neither of whom appears ever to sweat. When we meet her, Kate has just emerged from the sea-wet, lithe, / gorgeous, with streaming brunette hair, high-beam eyes, extraordinary arrow- like eyebrows, a wood-smoke voice, the full knockout arsenal. She’s off on a scam, our Kate, because that’s how she glides her way around glamorous Dade County with the help of her Rasta ”business partner,” Vernon (Eagle Eye Cherry)-shoplifting dresses in which to burgle safes in fancy houses, that sort of thing. Kate does fine. But her brother, Andy (Rob Knepper), doesn’t. He’s unhappily working undercover for Rob-erts, he always needs money, and he, not quite as swift as sis, decides to substitute zircons for diamonds stolen from the Russian government, thus double-crossing a Roberts-directed double- cross and blowing off his fed gig once and for all. Well, guess what. The plan backfires. Andy is kidnapped. And Roberts, rustling up a fat and detailed dos-sier on Kate’s criminal activities, hauls her in, ordering her to save the ice (and her brother)-or else go to jail. With his cropped hair, his death’s- head features, and his grimace of a smile, Glover has made a good career of playing bad guys (Masquerade, 52 Pick- Up). Roberts, therefore, is a nice twist on the typecasting-a man who can’t even cozy up to a first name, let alone another human being. Glover and Butler have an intriguingly spiky antagonism going, a believable mutual disdain, occasionally heated by appreciation of each other’s intelligence. (Plus, they share a discriminating taste for exotic, expensive aquarium fish.) And rounding out the thermostatically unconventional crew in Roberts’ (and, against her will, Kate’s) universe is Roxanne, the syb-aritic hotel proprietor played with luxurious gusto by Patti D’Arbanville (Wiseguy, Wired). Roxanne houses Kate at Roberts’ request-she’s a former ”employee” of his and he helped her get her boho inn-but mostly she whiles away her hours receiving facials and massages, changing wigs (first dark, then rich red, then bobbed platinum), and proffering drinks. It’s Roxanne who urges Kate to carry a gun, giving herguest a piece nestled in a hollowed-out Bible. But that Kate simply won’t do. Neither does she drink. It’s not her style. There’s style to spare in Beach but not so much, so loud, or so insistent that you’re tripping on the music (cool, subterranean-sounding stuff from former Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh) or pricing the menswear (although, with time, Kate’s offbeat wardrobe is bound to attract fashion followers). There’s al-so a lot to keep track of, a jumble of mysterious agenty business ^ that requires you to pay attention, Law & Order style, and not read magazines while you’re watching. This is, after all, still a cop show. This is still Dick Wolf we’re talking about here. Don’t expect flamingos. But do expect some cool summer viewing if South Beach keeps up this color scheme. At the end of the premier caper, as he and his headstrong con artiste cut a deal for further employ (and, voila, a blueprint for future episodes), Kate warns Roberts against getting any ideas. ”Like what?” he asks, glaring. ”Like that this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” replies she, eyes blazing. ”Not in this life,” snaps he. So help me, I’m getting ideas. Maybe it’s the heat. A-

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