Review of "Public Moras" on TNT From The TV MegaSite

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Public Morals cast

"Public Morals" review by Suzanne 8/28/15
Airs on
TNT Tuesdays at 10/9

This is a really well made drama. The characters and actors are outstanding. I watched 3 episodes and I really did enjoy it, for the most part. It stars Edward Burns as Terry Muldoon, a corrupt cop in 1960's New York. He and the other cops in his division enforce the laws about morals, such as prostitution, drugs, gambling and more.  They're all on the take, though, and take many bribes.  One of the reasons, to be fair, is that they realize that a lot of these laws are stupid, so they don't want to really enforce them too strongly. They know that vices are something that are hard to get rid of (remember, this is only 30 years after Prohibition, so they know well, from their own recent history, that it didn't work).

Terry comes from a family of cops, and his cousin Sean (Austin Stowell) is also a cop. However, Sean's dad (Timothy Hutton, in a great but short role) is a wife beater and works for the mob. When he gets murdered, they have to try to solve the crime. This leads them to the mobsters, headed by crime boss Joe Patton (Brian Dennehy).  Patton's son, Rusty (Neal McDonough) is a violent thug who wants to take over the business. 

Rounding out the cast are Terry's partner, Charlie Bullman (Michael Rappaport); their boss, Captain Johanson (Robert Knepper); the veteran cop Lt. King (Ruben Santiago-Hudson); new detective Jimmy (Brian Wiles); and Jimmy's partner, Vince (Wass Stevens). However, it's a really large cast and we get to know many others as well. It remains to be seen in future episodes, who lives and dies, and who becomes more important in the story. We see a lot of the first episodes through Jimmy's eyes, which is one of those convenient plot devices TV uses to tell the viewers who's who and what's what. He doesn't seem like he'll be the focus of the series, though.

Another good thing about the show is how they get the details right about the period, much like "Mad Men."  It looks very accurate to me with regards to the clothing, buildings, cars, et al. Not that I'm an expert -- I was a child back then, and I lived in San Diego! But I think "Mad Men" and other shows like it have set the bar for other period dramas.  We expect them to have a certain amount of accuracy now.

The only thing I don't like about the show is that there don't seem to be any real good guys. Everyone is corrupt or evil. The cops are all bad and corrupt, and the mobsters are worse. I really like to watch shows with heroes, not villains. Heroes don't have to be perfect, but I don't like it when they cross the line, especially police. There are enough corrupt police in real life. I don't want to watch them on TV.

I would say that Terry and Sean are supposed to be the "heroes" of the show, since most of it focuses on them and how they deal with everyone, including their families. It will be interesting to see if they stay as corrupt as they are now or have to become more honest or not.

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