'Common Law,' another odd couple of cops

Warren Kole as Wes Mitchell and Michael Ealy Warren Kole as Wes Mitchell and Michael Ealy as Travis Marks in "Common Law" "Pilot" on USA Network. Photo Credit: USA Network

advertisement | advertise on newsday

REVIEW

SERIES PREMIERE "Common Law"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Friday at 10 p.m. on USA.

REASON TO WATCH Odd-couple cops (again), bickering cute.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Police partners who don't get along -- what a concept! This time, it's uptight former lawyer Wes and foster-child-turned-ladies-man Travis, who may or may not be named after a Cabbage Patch doll. As embodied by Warren Kole and Michael Ealy, they couldn't be cuter. They are their captain's "two best detectives" and his "biggest pain in the. . . ."

That taskmaster, played by Jack McGee ("Rescue Me"), exudes his own kind of about-to-burst fireplug cute. If they had their own close-ups, the office desks probably would be cute, too. Travis' personal crib, an Airstream trailer surrounded by neon signs inside a funky warehouse, is super cute.

Anyway, the fireplug has ordered his two young hotheads to attend couples counseling, which serves as this series' really-not-necessary-but-mega-cute hook.

MY SAY One thing you can say for USA: It knows what it's doing. It's got its shtick, and it's sticking to it. Monk and Sharona, Shawn and Gus ("Psych"), Neal and Peter ("White Collar"), et al -- thrown together for a little investigation, some bickering, a dash of wit, that final aha solution. It works -- again here, against a somewhat grittier background of urban L.A. burglar-bars territory more familiar from "The Shield."

There's also the standard dangling of the unresolved back story. Wes yearns to get back with his (ex) wife. Why isn't he a lawyer anymore? How come he's so uptight? Travis grew up in 18 foster homes -- specificity is cute, too -- and thus, so yearns for connection that he sleeps with every woman in sight ("Jericho's" Alicia Coppola makes a devastatingly droll coroner). Is this what makes Travis so, in Wes' words, "anal-explosive?"

Ealy, of course, has been a star-in-the-making forever, since his big-screen steal of "Barbershop," then certifying his mettle in Showtime's "Sleeper Cell" as the take-down-terrorists undercover man. This charmer can keep starring in films like "Think Like a Man" while a short-season cabler like "Common Law" runs for eons. Kole, too, comes into his own here, lobbing the ball back nicely after gigs on "The Chicago Code," "Mental" and "24."

BOTTOM LINE These bicker brothers will be around for a while.

GRADE B+

You also may be interested in: