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TV Reviews : ‘Cops’ a Blend of Drama and Reality

The ex-cop faces the camera, recalling the time he was shot in the chest point-blank by a fleeing bank robber and later operated on without anesthetic. But even 11 years later, the memory is still overpowering, and his voice breaks into deep sobs.

This jolting footage of an anguished Jim Snidersich is the emotional centerpiece--and by far the most compelling aspect--of “Top Cops,” a derivative CBS summer series premiering at 10 tonight on channels 2 and 8.

A production from Sonny Grosso and Larry Jacobson, “Top Cops” is a close cousin of a recent short-lived syndicated series in which Grosso--a former New York policeman who helped break the famed French Connection case--interviewed cops about their most memorable moments in the line of duty. Grosso does not appear this time. As in the earlier series, however, recollections from the officers are blended with dramatic re-creations featuring actors, in an attempt to show the perils and pressures faced by cops.

The Snidersich segment is indeed harrowing, and his survival--which is never fully explained--seems miraculous. His own narration applies a dramatic exclamation point to the simulated sequences.

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It’s the preceding two segments--one about the dismantling of a bomb and the other about a Secret Service agent’s dangerous undercover work--that have a “Dragnet” just-the-facts quality and fail to capture the apparent suspense of the actual incidents.

In that some of the re-created scenes focus entirely on criminals, moreover, there’s no telling how much of this “reality-based” series is reality and how much has been made up to enhance the narrative. Whatever, too much of “Top Cops” just doesn’t work.


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