By Clark Collis
Updated September 14, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Rebecca Brenneman

The road to the still hellish (for many inhabitants) environs of post-Katrina New Orleans is paved with good intentions in this police show, which follows Marlin Boulet (Hustle & Flow‘s Anthony Anderson), a boozy but otherwise pretty saint-like local cop disgusted by what his hometown has become. Much of the script concerns problems the city has endured over the past two years, from the controversial recruitment of private security firms to police the city to the continuing desolation of the Ninth Ward.

Yes, the Big Easy is pretty well served by K-Ville. Alas, TV viewers are not. True, Anderson and the underrated Cole Hauser (2 Fast 2 Furious) are fine as the show’s mismatched partners (one’s black, the other white; one likes to drink on the job, the other not so much). But K- Ville‘s debut episode boasts a highly improbable plot hinged around a villainous attempt to stop recovery efforts. It also features dialogue that jackknifes between the clichéd (”You’ve got a lot of nerve, detectives!”) and the unlikely (”There’s more loose ends than a whorehouse!”). The obvious comparison here is to Rescue Me.

But where that 9/11-oriented show offers wit, depth of cast, and jaw-dropping fearlessness in depicting its characters as genuinely troubled people, K-Ville plays like a tired retooling of the pre-Homicide cop-show formula (think Kojak with less lollipops and more gumbo). So, kudos to K-Ville for trying to be part of the solution. The problem is that, though not TV hell, the result does often feel rather like purgatory.