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Graceland’ and ‘King & Maxwell’ add to cable’s stable of procedurals

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Crime fighters Tenney and Romijn as King & Maxwell.

The Details

King & Maxwell
Two and a half stars
Mondays, 10 p.m., TNT
Graceland
Two and a half stars
Thursdays, 10 p.m., USA

Summertime means the return of USA and TNT’s successful procedurals, shows like Major Crimes, Burn Notice, Royal Pains and Perception. This week brings two new additions to those ranks, one from each network. TNT’s King & Maxwell sticks to the expected setup, right down to the title with two names joined by an ampersand (not to be confused with TNT shows Rizzoli & Isles and Franklin & Bash). It stars Jon Tenney (late of TNT signature series The Closer) and Rebecca Romijn as the title characters, a pair of former Secret Service agents now working as private investigators in Washington, D.C.

Like Rizzoli & Isles, King & Maxwell is based on a popular series of novels (by David Baldacci), and its greatest strength is the chemistry between its leads. Tenney and Romijn have a nice playful dynamic, and the script does a decent job of balancing banter and exposition. The case of the week in the first episode is both convoluted and generic, however, and there’s no indication that the show will be anything other than a rote procedural with a handful of lively character moments. For TNT, that’s business as usual.

Aaron Tveit and Daniel Sunjata in Graceland.

USA’s Graceland tries to go beyond business as usual, shaking up the network’s proven “blue skies” formula with something a little grittier. Created by White Collar’s Jeff Eastin, Graceland centers around the title location, a beachfront Southern California mansion that serves as a safe house for a variety of undercover law-enforcement agents. Graceland is more of an ensemble show than its fellow USA dramas, and it’s also more serialized, with cases that aren’t resolved within a single episode. There’s more focus on interpersonal drama, as well as an effort to keep the action a little more grounded and realistic.

Still, this isn’t The Wire or even TNT’s Southland; it’s got beaches and surfing and attractive people in skimpy outfits, and the characters and cases remain fairly one-dimensional. USA’s most entertaining shows get by on their weightlessness, but Graceland is simultaneously too serious and not serious enough. If anything, it proves that the network should stick to doing what it does best, and not mess with success.

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