TV Reviews : 'Sunset Beat' Recycles Familiar Cop Themes

"Sunset Beat" is maximum mindlessness, a cop series premiering at 8 tonight on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42 with screeching chases, crashes and violence at once gratuitous and sanitized.

Somewhere in all of this there's also a plot, but barely.

Are you ready for this one more time? Five young undercover cops on motorcycles have been assigned to an experimental unit covering the Sunset Strip out of an abandoned firehouse. The boss is an older cop who's tough but fair, stern but compassionate.

Tonight they battle a merciless criminal who poisons zoo animals, takes a hostage and does other awful things to force the city to return his millions in drug money that the police confiscated at a crash site. If this sounds a bit bizarre, it's because this supercilious super thug is educated and refined, but I assure you, also quite mad. DO YOU HEAR, MAD!!!

The only interesting character here is Chic Chesbro (George Clooney), who spends his nights playing in a rock band. It's his volatile relationship with his druggie ex-wife that provides the rare exclamation points in this otherwise stale and tedious two-hour pilot.

A typical scene: Chesbro and his partner stake out a couple of thieves. Instead of doing the logical thing and grabbing them when they emerge from a building (that would be too easy), they allow the thieves to drive away in a van so that they can chase them on their motorcycles.

Later on, a cop is killed when thrown from a helicopter, but his body is barely messed up. Still later, another cop isn't even hurt after falling into the drink from a great height.

They should have thrown the show.

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