"Reckless," premiering Sunday on CBS, is a summery crime-soap, just complicated enough to be diverting without taxing brains addled by the sun.
Created by Dana Stevens ("What About Brian"), with a pilot directed by Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight"), it is a busy, middling thing, thin yet compelling in the way that one potato chip compels you to eat another. I can't exactly recommend it, and yet I must admit I watched many more episodes than was strictly necessary to write this review.
The place is Charleston, S.C., where the days are hot and the nights are hotter, and the cops and lawyers the camera lingeringly peruses hotter still. The fact that few of them seem authentic members of their professed professions is really beside the point; so many things here are not what they seem. (Though Charleston is, in fact, Charleston. And very pretty too.)
In the first scene, a young woman in a short, tight dress is pulled over by a policeman, then handcuffed to a fence as if to be taken advantage of, to use the nice phrase. But it's all a game — they are illicitly involved fellow officers Lee Anne Marcus (Georgina Haig) and Terry McCandless (Shawn Hatosy) — and this is just the first double-jointed gambit in this '80s-style sex-thriller.
Anna Wood is Jamie Sawyer, a Yankee lawyer, moved South for reasons not quickly revealed but already making a discomfiting noise in the local justice system.
"I don't know how they run their courtrooms up in Chi-cargo or New York," one judge tells her, "but down here we don't allow our attorneys to play Perry Mason."
Local rising star Roy Raydear (Cam Gigandet) is her constant opponent and object of mutual attraction. They banter and flirt.
Roy: "How come I never see you sweat?"
Jamie: "I'm sweating right now in little private places you can't see."
But Roy has issues, and Jamie has issues; and hunky Det. Preston Cruz (Adam Rodriguez) stands between them.
The show has an episodic component — some cases will be concluded within the hour, as the twisting and turning of the main plot continues. There is a vague feminist subtext to both the short and the long arcs that doesn't entirely (or at all) obviate the way the camera responds to cleavage. Or make it any less strange when Jamie and Roy jokingly discuss whether they "got off on" a sex tape that not only figures in the case they're trying, from opposing sides, but in which the woman might have been drugged.
A reliable backline of actors — including Michael Gladis ( "Mad Men") as Roy's boss, Gregory Harrison as Roy's mover-shaker ex-father-in-law and Kim Wayans (of the comedy Wayans) as Jamie's paralegal-cum-investigator — plump up the drama. (There are nice guest turns as well from the likes of Rick Gomez, James Frain, Bess Armstrong and Debra Monk.)
Frequent lashings of rock and pop remind you to feel feelings.
When: 9 p.m. Sunday
Rating: TV-14-LSV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language, sex and violence)