Mr. Goldblum (who will appear every other episode, alternating with Vincent D’Onofrio) plays Detective Zack Nichols, a former musician and son of Upper West Side psychologists, who left the New York Police Department for seven years after 9/11 to pursue that very un-cop-like ambition of finding himself. “Seven years? Where did he go?” his new partner, Megan Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson), asks their captain, Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian). “Sent me a postcard from Cleveland once,” Ross replies.
Nichols has returned to the force, ostensibly with Zen calm and more of the intuitive brilliance that we are meant to infer as his genetic inheritance. The character is better suited to Mr. Goldblum’s sensibility than the hallucinating detective he played on the short-lived series “Raines,” on which he was required to do too much feeling. Nichols is like Damian Lewis’s Charlie Crews on “Life” but funnier. We are introduced to him this Sunday at a crime scene in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn where he shows up with a bagel, a bowl of grits and a tantric charm, marveling at the neighborhood’s shopping opportunities and getting at its ethnic and racial divisions in a way that leave the preceding moments of plodding exposition completely superfluous.
Mr. Goldblum’s initial scene has the effect of a star’s first walk-on in a stage play: you feel moved to applause. It isn’t merely that Mr. Goldblum is now the marquee name, more famous than the actors around him. It’s also that you trust him to break through the show’s melodramatic solemnity; he signals a kind of first-aid relief. Wheeler, played by the expressionless, pancake-faced Ms. Nicholson, is destined to fade even further into the background than she did with her previous partner, Mike Logan (Chris Noth). And Mr. D’Onofrio’s Detective Robert Goren, with his lugubrious intellect and Rodin poses, is fated to seem even more annoying now that Mr. Goldblum is here, on alternate weeks, to deliver a far more appealing take on how to be a know-it-all.
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