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New York City in 1960s, like today, had some of the finer things in life.
There’s the Plaza Hotel, Rockefeller Center or a walk through Central Park on a nice day among other things.
The series premiere episode of “Public Morals” on TNT on Tuesday (Aug. 25) takes you into the more negative side of New York City during the 1960s. It is a world of dark and dank bars, of underworld figures, illegal gambling and those who unfortunately have to or choose to make a living selling their bodies.
Edward Burns, who created this series and has written and directed several upcoming episodes, stars as Officer Terry Muldoon who is assigned to the New York City Poice Department’s Public Morals Division or to put it more simply, the vice squad.
Those viewers expecting to see good guys like the police on “Law and Order” or “Blue Bloods” get that thought thrown out the window early as we see Muldoon take money from a “john” to forget an arrest after the john is caught with a prostitute. Later, Muldoon agrees to look the other way on an illegal crap game as long as he is compensated.
He lectures a new officer assigned to the unit that the police can’t eliminate prostitution, gambling, etc. They can only “manage” it. I translated that to mean that he wanted the new officer to accept money and keep his mouth shut.
Later, when Muldoon returns home to a phone booth of an apartment (what does he do with the money he takes?), he is all Ward Cleaver being strict with his eldest son, 13, who is acting out in school and telling his other two kids to “pay attention to the nuns” at school. That brought out a laugh from me.
Other familiar faces in the cast include Michael Rapaport as Charlie Bullman, Muldoon’s partner and Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Lt. King.
There’s a 1960s music soundtrack in the show and the production design will put you right into that era.
Again, this show will not put a positive spin on the NYPD in the 1960s. But the reality is that there was widespread corruption during that era.
So this show will not likely leave the sewer very much. But I want to see where it leads.
And if the show lasts long enough, I want an episode where Muldoon and the rest of his colleagues are hauled in front of the Knapp Commission, which beginning in 1970, uncovered police corruption in the NYPD.

RATING — *** stars

“Public Morals” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CDT on TNT.

UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .

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