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‘Cold Case’: CBS’ crime drama better than most

The conviction of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel in the murder of teen Martha Moxley in the 1970s continues to haunt the American conscience.

The murder, which was not solved for almost 30 years, clearly helped inspire CBS’ new drama “Cold Case.” Not only is the drama based on solving cases that happened years ago, but also the premiere episode revolves around the murder of a young girl with two rich brothers as the suspects. The comparisons are endless and may make several people involved in the Moxley case uncomfortable.

Detective Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris) receives the case by default. As the lone woman in Philadelphia’s homicide unit, Lilly usually takes the leftovers. Lilly is tenacious and persistent. She is charming enough to soothe fragile egos or tease suspects into revealing more than they want. She devotes her life to her job, but never loses a sense of humor.

When asked why she became a cop, she responds, “bad education, little talent.”

Lilly does have a talent for examining evidence and fighting for the truth. Which is why she becomes interested in solving cold cases, those investigations that were abandoned long ago for lack of evidence.

“People shouldn’t be forgotten,” says Lilly. “They matter. They should get justice, too.”

Lilly is a crusader for those who can no longer defend themselves. She realizes that her work may open old wounds or compel criminals to commit additional crimes.

Despite her talent, Lilly doesn’t work alone. Her mentor is Lt. Tom Stillman (John Finn), while Detective Will Jeffries (Thom Barry) and Detective Nick Vera (Jeremy Ratchford) contribute their expertise and years of experience. Her partner, Detective Chris Lassiter, who doesn’t always understand the desire to chase ghosts, also aids her.

“Cold Case” offers an interesting twist to the traditional police genre. The scripts expertly weave stories from 20 years ago into current action. It’s fascinating to see witnesses and suspects as they looked at the time of the crime and then today. The scenes are edited so that the young and old characters blend back and forth, always reminding the viewers what role that person played in the crime.

Morris gracefully portrays a tough woman whose job comes first, yet she never loses her feminine side. Despite the horrendous crimes, the drama does not dwell on shocking pictures or action. But the language can be a little raw for its 8 p.m. time slot.

“Cold Case” is one of the better crime dramas on television and may prove a rival to the respected “Law & Order” dynasty.


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