THE SHOW "Gang Related"
WHEN|WHERE Premieres Thursday night at 9 on Fox/5
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Ryan Lopez (Ramon Rodriguez) has history -- history of the barrio, where blood is thicker than water, and the ties you make there are ties for life. He's a hotshot in L.A.'s elite Gang Task Force, charged with bringing down the toughest gangs in the 'hood. But he still has ties to one of those -- Los Angelicos, run by the brutal Javier Acosta (Cliff Curtis), who goes to Lopez for information about the cops' next move. After his partner is gunned down by Acosta's son, Lopez has to pretend he knows nothing -- to his new partner, Cassius (RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan) and his boss, Sam Chapel (Terry O'Quinn).
MY SAY Almost everything you need to know about "Gang Related" is neatly packaged -- ribbon and bow included -- in this line of dialogue from O'Quinn's Chapel: "We found our shooter -- he's a two-striker aching for a third."
Beautiful! That's what's called "economy," for in those words you learn that "Gang Related" is hooey -- but deadly earnest hooey of the sort that prompts unintentional laughter at the darnedest times. Accept that fact -- embrace that fact -- and only then can you accept "Gang" for what it is: Summer pulp that sticks to script like a cheap suit to a sweat-drenched shirt.
"Gang Related" absolutely has its rough charms, albeit those of a comic book -- a full-speed-ahead cop romp without much in the way of brains or plot to slow down the action or at least make much sense of it. The whole series is essentially the story of Rodriguez's Lopez, the dirty cop who plays both sides against the middle and who gets away with the charade. We've seen this certainly before -- "The Shield" comes to mind, though best not to mention it and "Gang Related" in the same sentence, because someone just might get the spectacularly wrong idea they are in some way similar.
They are not, but that doesn't mean "Gang" isn't good for a few action sequences, and enough grit to pick out of your teeth by the end of each episode. If that's your idea of fun, have at it.
BOTTOM LINE Pulp hooey with a comic book vitality and earnestness that manages to keep it (usually) on track.