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Review: TNT's 'Murder in the First'

Premiere Date: Monday, June 9, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT
Rating: Three out of five stars

One could raise the question as to whether TV needs yet another entry in the cops-and-crime category. But if you’re a fan, Murder in the First is a particularly well-executed example from one of the genre’s masters, Steven Bochco, who cocreated the series with Eric Lodal.

In fact, fans of another Bochco entry — the 1995-96 series Murder One — can see some parallels in a series fixated mainly on the single case of a powerful male celebrity (a Silicon Valley mogul in Murder in the First; a rock star in Murder One) using his power, prestige and money to defend himself from charges of murdering a woman (in the new series’ case, an employee rather than a teen-age girl).

The twist here is while Murder One took the defense counsel’s point of view, the TNT offering is seen from the point of view of the investigators, Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) and Terry English (Taye Diggs). In investigating the death of a junkie, the San Francisco homicide detectives find out their victim is the birth father of Erich Blunt (Tom Felton), a wunderkind Silicon Valley tech developer. But that’s not the only death connected to Blunt: Several days later, Cindy Strauss, a flight attendant on Blunt’s private jet, is found dead in her apartment.

Most of the first three episodes find Mulligan and English racing to tie together the disparate threads while also dealing with various personal issues — Mulligan is a recently divorced single mom, while English’s wife is dying of cancer. And while it may come off at times as cop drama-by-the-numbers, it’s executed at a very high level, with heavy hitters in the supporting cast. Richard Schiff (The West Wing) plays Blunt’s personal attorney, David Hertzberg, and James Cromwell portrays top criminal defense attorney Warren Daniels.