The Glades of the title refer to the swampy, sunny nowhere town of Palm Glade, Fla., where snarky cop Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) does the whole solve-a-murder-perweek thing. The lush setting does, in fact, play a major part in A&E’s latest shot at a signature scripted series: In the first five episodes, Jim has yet to encounter a case that doesn’t reflect a quintessential trait of the town, like evidence swallowed by an alligator or a body found in a sugarcane field.
But make no mistake, the star here is Passmore — all mussy hair and devil-may-care resistance to authority. Jim was exiled from his big-city police job in Chicago after being accused of sleeping with the captain’s wife (which, naturally, he didn’t do — he has to be a likable rogue). The Glades wants very much for you to know it’s a textbook cable cop show: Take quirky crime-solver, place in idiosyncratic setting, add unattainable love interest (Kiele Sanchez as a gorgeous med student with a husband in prison and a cute son), throw in zany crimes and ethnically diverse colleagues?and poof, you have a successful summer show. And no doubt it’s a crowdpleaser: The Glades? July 11 premiere broke A&E ratings records with 3.6 million viewers.
The problem? The cable-cop shtick is wearing a bit thin after The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, and White Collar (where Glades creator Clifton Campbell previously served as coexec producer). But if The Glades can break its slavery to formula, it has potential. Passmore is almost pathologically appealing, and the mysteries are more engaging than they have any right to be. If you?re going to watch a wacky hero solve murders in a wacky locale this summer — and let’s face it, you probably are — Jim Longworth and the Florida swampland will do just fine. B?