A vicious criminal has busted out of Fishkill Correctional, so U.S. Marshal Charlie Duchamp (Laz Alonso) reaches out to former colleague Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi, "Entourage," "The Wire") to form a task force of breakout kings - jailbirds with a master's touch when it comes to a con's M.O.
They include: Lloyd Lowery (Jimmi Simpson, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and Lyle the Intern on "Late Show With David Letterman"), a super smarty-pants type with a keen understanding of the human mind; Shea Daniels (Malcolm Goodwin), an ex-gangbanger with street brains; and Erica Reed (Serinda Swan), a grifter and ex-Miss Idaho. The deal they can't refuse: Help catch the escaped con and their sentences will be reduced.
MY SAY Many years ago, the '60s landmark film "The Dirty Dozen" upended the whole idea of what a "war hero" should be (and, incidentally, inspired "Inglourious Basterds" 40 or so years later.) Fight evil with evil. Put another way, it may take a tough man to make a tender chicken, but it takes a really tough man to beat a really tough enemy.
What does "Kings" bring to the formula? Essentially nothing, and absent a cohesive, taut or particularly interesting plot, what's left to get excited about other than the New York locale? Not much.
The characters offer a glimmer of a prayer of a promise - particularly Simpson's Lowery, who almost too deftly portrays a smarmy toad under the spell of a tippling mother. (You never actually see her - she just calls her dear boy.) All the others have secrets, and the series will presumably strip those away. However, you'll struggle to care much what those are.
BOTTOM LINE Matt Olmstead ("NYPD Blue," "Prison Break") and Nick Santora ("Prison Break") are two solid guys who know how to make good TV and Lombardozzi and Alonzo are superior actors. But there are only flashes of promise here.