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NBC's Taxi Brooklyn fares well with blend of tire-squealing action, breezy byplay


Cop Cat Sullivan and cabbie Leo Romba in Taxi Brooklyn. NBC photo

Premiering: Wednesday, June 25th at 9 p.m. (central) on NBC
Starring: Chyler Leigh, Jacky Ido, Jennifer Esposito, Ally Walker, James Colby, Bill Heck, Jose Zuniga, Raul Casso
Produced by: Thomas Anargyros, Edouard de Vesinne, Gary Scott Thompson

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Crooks and crimes are caught and solved fast and furiously on NBC’s Taxi Brooklyn.

It’s the latest scripted summer newcomer on a network that’s already doing quite well with The Night Shift, hanging in there with Undateable and now sinking with Crossbones after a decent early sampling.

Although the premise is mega-preposterous, Taxi Brooklyn may be the best suited to breezy summer viewing with its spinning tire action and tasty banter between the two engaging leads.

Chyler Leigh, formerly with Grey’s Anatomy, plays snarly detective Caitlyn “Cat” Sullivan, who’s alienated five partners in the past year and wrecked three cars in the last month. But she’s been a little off-kilter ever since her father was murdered. The killer of course remains at large.

Jacky Ido (Inglorious Basterds), in his first American TV series, co-stars as cabbie Leo Romba, a hard driver behind the wheel but otherwise an easy grinner who’s much better than Cat at enjoying life.

They meet when he’s held at gunpoint by an escaped bank robber during a careening, high-speed chase through Brooklyn. She doesn’t believe his story and Leo’s back story doesn’t inspire confidence. He spent four years in a French prison for his alleged involvement in a bank robbery. And he’s now in the country illegally after lying on his immigration form. They don’t get along at first. “You’re just another d-bag a-hole to me,” she informs him, the first of four times Cat goes the “douche” route in the two episodes sent for review.

Nonetheless, Leo has the wheels she needs after being grounded and put on foot patrol by fed-up precinct captain John Baker (James Colby). But there are still cases to be solved. Leo offers to secretly drive Cat anywhere she wants to go if she’ll help him work out his immigration problems. He also has a cute son at home, which helps to sway her.

Taxi Brooklyn doesn’t have to make a lot of sense to be a fair amount of fun. Cat’s flirtatious mother, Frankie (nicely played by Ally Walker from NBC’s old Profiler series), chips in on occasion while Cat’s philandering ex-husband, detective Gregg James (Bill Heck), continues to vex her even more than mom.

The cases at hand quickly lead to foot or car chases, with Leo a virtuoso on the accelerator pedal and also helpful in deciphering clues. In Episode 2, Cat derisively calls him “Columbo,” to which Leo says, “I would be more of a David Addison from Moonlighting.”

This also is the episode in which Cat climbs into a slinky red dress to go undercover with Leo at a trendy club. But although purportedly a savvy cop, she’s quickly tripping after a sip from a doctored drink. It’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” time, with Leigh getting a chance to break away from her clipped, controlling character for a few minutes before Leo finally drags her out of there.

Taxi Brooklyn turns out to be better than expected escapist fare, even if Leo still isn’t charging Cat anything for all those extended, often high-speed trips. He seems to know all the shortcuts. She takes it from there.

GRADE: B-minus

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