TV Reviews : 'Good Cops, Bad Cops' a Smooth Caper
December 08, 1990|RAY LOYND
Ray Sharkey as a Boston police captain in a starched blue uniform is an incredulous image. That's because Sharkey has nailed down the market on feral con artists. And sure enough, he turns out to be a corrupt cop in NBC's "Good Cops, Bad Cops" (Sunday at 9 p.m., Channels 4, 36 and 39), a moderately compelling, fact-based yarn about a group of Boston's finest who pulled off what may be history's biggest bank heist (some $25 million in cash and jewels).
Ed Asner plays a police official who from the start is wise to Sharkey's scam-laden character (based on the real-life Gerry Clemente, who from his cell wrote the book "The Cops Are Robbers," on which scenarist Bill Bleich based his teleplay).
Director Paul Wendkos and a gritty cast of actors, including bad guys Steve Railsback and James Keach, dramatize a nervy and literally almost leisurely three-day bank robbery masterminded by a cool group of Boston policemen over the Memorial Day weekend in 1980.
They get away with it too. That's the first hour of the show, and it's staged with enough veracity that, as with so many daring capers, you find yourself pulling for the gangsters. The last hour is equally arresting and implacable as the thieves, who know no honor among themselves, of course, fall into the fatal trap of mutual distrust.
Sharkey's performance, which is convincingly measured instead of merely hyper, is quite good and it anchors the show. There's no violence as such until the end, a vermilion moment that unflinchingly lingers on a gunshot victim as he crawls home a bloody pulp. The scene is unusually graphic but a casebook example of violence dramatized for the right reasons.
Supporting actors Bobby Kellog (an undercover cop who underscores the pressure from the Asner character for cops to rat on other cops) and Robert F. Lyons (as the gang's alarm system magician) earmark the attention to character detail.
Good Cops, Bad Cops (1990) TV Movie
Cast: Ray Sharkey, Edward Asner, George Kennedy, James Keach, Steve Railsback