'Reckless' on CBS is anything but

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Anna Wood as Jamie Sawyer, left, and and Anna Wood as Jamie Sawyer, left, and and Adam Rodriguez as Preston Cruz in "Reckless," a sultry legal drama premiering Sunday, June 29 at 9 p.m. EST on CBS. Photo Credit: AP / Jackson Lee Davis

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REVIEW

THE SHOW "Reckless"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Sunday night at 9 on CBS/2

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Pity the poor broadcast networks. Cable channels have heisted all the series buzz. Unburdened by public licensing, they can air daring dramas, scatological sitcoms, sexual situations, adult anti-heroes. Where does that leave a nice family-friendly network?

In Charleston, S.C., that's where -- the setting and shooting locale for CBS' steamy, salacious, yet semi-clothed and clean-mouthed summer concoction "Reckless." It's up to the viewer to pretend that the female cop sprawled atop a patrol car hood in her black lace undies isn't wearing them. You can also imagine whatever foul terms you prefer in place of the epithet "dirtbag" or a Southern deputy's assessment that "she's got you bent over a stump with your pants down, son."

Series creator Dana Stevens gives you plenty to work with. Chicago-area émigré Jamie Sawyer (Anna Wood, "Deception") gets called "Yankee lawyer" constantly as she takes on the old-boy network behind legal, police and political peccadillos. A part of that web, yet not, is canny prosecutor Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet, "The O.C."), a lonely divorced dad whose admiration of Jamie ranges beyond the courtroom. These two firm-bodies match wits in weekly cases as well as the continuing saga of a disgraced female cop (Georgina Haig, "Fringe") and her "king dirtbag" colleague-tormentor (Shawn Hatosy, "Southland").

MY SAY Good luck figuring initially what this series is trying to be. Legal drama? Scandal study? Sex soap? Soap certainly describes the crazy mesh of relationships, where everybody is related to and/or knows everybody else for story purposes. It also conveys the tone of blatant behavior, direct dialogue and fierce flirtation.

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Yet it's clear by next week that "Reckless" doesn't hew to its title in construction. Stevens (she also created "What About Brian") scripts some cagey legal showdowns, plot turns and character surprises. The actors hit that soap sweet-spot between honest reality and lurid theatricality under direction from pros like Michael Apted and Catherine Hardwicke. The result is juicy, flavorful and just salty enough to leave you smacking your lips for next Sunday's serving.

BOTTOM LINE Solid page-turner makes great beach reading -- uh, viewing.

GRADE B+

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