By Ken Tucker
Updated October 06, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

I knew that New York News was losing its grip on reality when one reporter (played by Gregory Harrison) said to another reporter (played by Guiding Light‘s Melina Kanakaredes), ”Two people working for the same newspaper shouldn’t be this competitive.” In my newspaper experience, you could well be fired if you weren’t competitive with the person at the next desk.

But that’s the trouble with making a TV show about a subject that print types might know something about: We get picky, picky, picky. Verisimilitude aside, New York News, a drama about a fictional paper called The New York Reporter, has one big thing going for it: Mary Tyler Moore’s gutsily unsympathetic performance as editor in chief Louise ”The Dragon” Felcott. Among the smaller things going for it are Madeline Kahn’s shrewd embodiment of a haughty gossip columnist who has the cheerful gall to rag on Liz Smith, as well as Joe Morton’s stalwart managing editor.

It’s nice that New York News acknowledges the precarious financial position of the newspaper biz these days. Cutbacks and slashing expenses are things any viewer can identify with. But the show is also filled with hard-boiled clichés like ”I don’t have time now, I’m in the process of nailing a major dirtbag.” The series’ biggest liability is Harrison, who’s too doe-eyed sensitive to be the veteran columnist he’s supposed to be. (Granted, Harrison has also been handed the show’s worst dialogue, including, in the pilot, a hoary speech about Journalism and The Truth.) The series’ finest asset is Moore. Yes, all she’s doing is playing an ironic twist on Lou Grant, but she does it with such steely assurance, suppressing her natural comic gifts, that her performance is heroic. C+