TV Review: USA's 'Graceland'

USA premieres new cop drama Graceland, following a group of undercover agents, on Thursday at 10 p.m. The following are reviews from TV critics around the Web, compiled by B&C.

Graceland tries to shift the balance a little, adding a moodier, grimmer underworld ambience and a more lasting sense of menace to balance all the sand and surf. But the series needs to work more on the writing and less on the lighting to make these particular characters welcome week after week.”

- Alessandra Stanley, New York Times

Graceland has assembled a lot of first-rate actors (including guests Jay Karnes, as Graceland’s overseer; and Courtney B. Vance as Mike’s boss) in the service of a rickety vehicle.”

- Brian Lowry, Variety

Graceland, created by White Collar executive producer Jeff Eastin, has more jagged edges than most USA series but it’s still escapist, relatively light, procedural programming. The show may not hold the attention of TV fans who crave complex storytelling - there’s not much for fans of psychologically intriguing character development to dig into - but for viewers who enjoy a steady USA diet, Graceland may darken the network’s Blue Sky programming approach just enough to intrigue.”

- Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“USA takes a few step beyond its familiar formula with Graceland, a law-enforcement show based on an actual cop shop from the 1990s…In the end, the connection of Graceland to real-life events doesn’t much matter. It feels promising as television, and several characters besides Warren and Briggs - including a DEA agent played by Serinda Swan, switching sides after Breakout Kings - have the potential to make us care about their stories.”

- David Hinckley, New York Daily News

“At first, the pace is slow - make that glacial - but tonight’s pilot episode (and especially Sunjata) are good-natured enough to make you want to stick around to see if this gels into anything approaching an FX drama (it does not).”

- Verne Gay, Newsday

“This is an excellent role for Sunjata (light years better than his stint as a dramaturg on Smash), and he provides many shadings to Paul both when he’s playing himself and when he’s working under an assumed identity. Also strong: Vanessa Ferlito as a DEA agent who gets too close to one of her informants, and Manny Montana in a lighter role as the house’s jack of all trades.”

- Alan Sepinwall,