By Mandi Bierly
Updated April 09, 2009 at 09:26 PM EDT

The art of the cleverly kooky cop show is not lost: It’s found any time you tune into Bones, Psych, Castle, the list goes on and on. We like it because the characters are smart, quippy people we could actually imagine talking to (because they’re smart and quippy). Personally, I’m fine with the networks filling their grids with this kind of show, particularly in the 10 p.m. hour when I’ve often had enough real-life drama for the day that I just want to watch something entertaining — but not mindless. That said, I’m still sorta surprised that I liked ABC’s latest offering, The Unusuals, as much as I did. They’re telling you how “kooky” it is right there in the title. Luckily, the writing and acting are more subtle.

addCredit(“Bob D’Amico/ABC”)

The premise of the show is simple: Every cop has a secret, and it seems we’ll be spending most of our time trying to figure out what Det. JasonWalsh (Jeremy Renner) is hiding. His crooked-but-redeemable partner,who’d been keeping files on the other detectives, has just beenmurdered, and he’s paired with Det. Casey Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn). Sofar we know that Walsh is a former first baseman for the Yankees whoowns a diner that he only opens when he feels like cooking crappy food;Shraeger left Harvard to join the force and comes from wealthy parentswho say things like, “What are you wearing? You look like a lesbian.”I’m definitely digging the coupling: He’s got a face that’s friendlybut slightly skeezy-looking (perfect for his role) and shestill looks young enough to be wearing traveling pants but has thatacid-laced tongue (ideal for hers). But my favorite duo in the precinctis shaping up to be Det. Eric Delahoy (Adam Goldberg) and Det. Leo Banks(Harold Perrineau). Delahoy is hiding the fact that he has a braintumor and has declined treatment; Banks walks around in a bullet-proofvest all the time because he just turned 42 — the same age hisgrandfather, father, and uncle each died. That level of “kooky” couldfeel so forced that I’d want to change the channel, but Goldberg andPerrineau make it feel real. I want to watch Delahoy continue to puthimself in situations where he could be killed (last night, divineintervention spared him from a subway and bullets, both of whichshould’ve nailed him). I want to watch Banks play cop when he’s afraidto put his life on the line. I watch to watch Goldberg and Perrineauexchange hilarious looks.

What’s your verdict on The Unusuals? Will you keep watching? (Only 6.8 million tuned in last night. Tell your friends to watch the episode online and get onboard next week, people.) Which characters are you loving/loathing? And how wrong is it that Save the Last Dance is the reason I have love for Terry Kinney (Sgt. Harvey Brown)?