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The Division a Slave to Gender

Lifetime Television takes on the cop genre with The Division,
a new San Francisco-based drama that's not all that remarkable, aside from the fact that the leads are women.

Some of the best work in hour-long television drama these days is in the crime-and-punishment realm, but The Division's producers don't seem to have thought past the gender gimmick: Lifetime is a women's network, so NYPD Blue
doesn't fit. They made SF PMS

It's not the fault of the cast, which has killer potential. Bonnie Bedelia-who's spent way too much time waiting for Bruce Willis to blow stuff up over the last decade-is Capt. Kate McCafferty, the boss of the police station.

Her underlings include Inspectors Jinny Exstead (Nancy McKeon), C.D. De Lorenzo (Tracey Needham), Angela Reide (Lela Rochon Fuqua) and Magdalena Ramirez (Lisa Vidal).

Why an all-women division? Because otherwise there wouldn't be a show. There's no explanation for the distaff staffing.

And several of the leads are hampered by stereotype. McKeon is the maverick cop by day, slut by night. Needham is the humorless head-buster. Rochon Fuqua is the bleeding heart.

The only characters painted with a greater palette, at least in the initial episodes, are those of Bedelia and Vidal. The former is juggling command duties while battling with a young daughter who's rejected the career track for marriage to a guy with a rap sheet.

And-in a nice contrast to all the aging male movie stars cast with lovers young enough to be their daughters-there's a love affair between McCafferty and a much-younger man.

Vidal has it best of all: her character is a single mother, part of a large Hispanic family that likes having its own personal cop, and partner to the token male regular who makes it clear he'd like to be more than a work partner.

But overall, the series is disappointing. The hour rushes through several plotlines, each of which ties up way too easily and with little deep thought. It's as if the actresses' contracts call for equal time in every episode.

All that running around leaves little time for character development-and we women like to get to know our characters before we fall in love with them.

The Division
debuted Jan. 7, and is scheduled for the 9-10 p.m. time slot Sundays on Lifetime.