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Noth, Plot Come Up Big in TNT's 'Apple'

Chris Noth's first return to the police beat since Law & Order— Turner Network Television's Bad Apple— is a welcome one, as the first in this would-be telefilm franchise never fails to entertain.

Noth (probably best known as Sex and the City's "Mr. Big") also serves as executive producer of this original movie, based on a novel by Anthony Bruno. He portrays Mike Tozzi, an FBI agent based on the North Jersey waterfront who's trying to bring down a loan-sharking business run by mob kingpin "Buddha" Stanzione (an atypical tough-guy role for Elliott Gould).

In a series of interlocking events probably best described as Elmore Leonard-meets-Seinfeld, we follow Tozzi and partner Cuthbert Gibbons (Colm Meaney) as they bust local hood Frank "Freshy" Defresco (James Villemaire), for selling off-the-truck breast implants.

Freshy cuts a deal and helps Tozzi go undercover, arranging for the FBI agent to get a loan from shark Tommy "Bells" Bellavita (Robert Patrick) for his nascent porn movie studio. While crashing at Freshy's, Tozzi goes under the covers with the informant's sister, Gina (Dagmara Dominczyk) — whom Bells also has eyes for. In fact, Bells' interest in Gina is the only reason why Freshy has an in.

Things get more complicated when another FBI agent turns up dead, and Gibbons is sent to bring Tozzi back in. Gibbons and the technician who's watching Tozzi's wire, Butters (in a scene-stealing performance by standup comedian Jim Gaffigan), are forced to pursue the agent and three mobsters as they make an impromptu visit to Gina at a Manhattan department store.

While there, Bells sees his face during a TV broadcast about the FBI agent's shooting, puts two and two together and takes off after Tozzi. From there, the plot unfolds at a break-neck pace into a series of interrelated events that show the quirky side of each character. TNT envisions Bad Apple as the first in a series of films, and if future installments live up to the initial outing, it should prove fruitful for the drama network.

Bad Apple bows Monday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. on TNT.