'Evidence' suggests show is unoriginal yet fun

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Here's the evidence on "The Evidence:" Shamelessly derivative cop show set in the shamelessly overexposed city by the bay, with high-school-play-level acting performances which help make the overall effect cornier than a cornfield in Kansas. And yet ... and yet, there's something appealing about ABC's new cop drama.

Could it be the way Orlando Jones ("Mad TV") - freewheeling San Francisco Police Department Det. Cayman Bishop - gives a double take when some skanky perp gives him a load of hooey? Could it be the way Martin Landau - slumming it as Dr. Sol Goldman, the SFPD's Solomonic presence who studies the evidence - looks like Dick Van Dyke in "Diagnosis: Murder?" Could it be the Finger? Oh, we're not going to tell you about the Finger (sorry, you'll just have to watch), but it stars in a seemingly unintentionally amusing moment in a show just brimming with them.

One reason why "The Evidence" actually works in spite of its ridiculous self is the relationship between detectives Bishop and Sean Cole (Rob Estes, "Melrose Place"). In an unintentionally amusing press release, ABC says: "The weekly mystery also follows the close ties of Cole and Bishop - friends for so many years with so much depth, history and humor that they act like an old married couple." Old married couple? Could this be TV's first gay detective series? "Brokeback Mountain" meets "Starsky & Hutch?"

Sorry - if only. Instead, both guys are straight (we think) and they just happen to have a pleasing on-screen chemistry. Whether this is enough to hold onto some of the "Lost" lead-in is unknown, but funkier things have happened. (And don't be shocked if "Evidence" beats NBC's vastly superior "Heist" tonight either.)

There's also a gimmick: all evidence in a crime that's about to be committed will be presented at the outset of the story. Tonight, a voice-over lists the following: flowers, with balloons; a golf locket; the Finger. ... Then, the crime: TV's favorite victim, the Brutally Murdered Young Woman. Our boys are called in to track down the killer, but they don't seem too concerned that the material they're handed appears to have been pirated from about 10 other shows, from "Killer Instinct" to "Nash Bridges."

San Fran, meanwhile, looks great. At least something does here.

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