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TV Series Review

Detective David Creegan (Jeffrey Donovan) is shameless. Literally. After a bullet pierces his skull, the area of his brain responsible for instilling a sense of decorum, modesty and restraint has been damaged. So has his long-term memory. Not that it stops him from resuming his work with an elite team of FBI agents investigating organized and serial crime.

Together with his considerably less damaged partner, Susan Branca (Vera Farmiga), Creegan bestows meaning on the series’ title, Touching Evil (on the USA cable channel), by worming his way inside the heads of rabid killers and psychopaths. He does it to bring them to justice. Why fans go along for the ride is anyone’s guess.

Creegan’s memory loss puts him at odds with his ex-wife and family. His lack of moderation can push him up against the edges of the law. Confronting him about his unorthodox, sometimes violent methods, Susan rails, “You can’t act that way with a suspect. There are lines you can’t cross!” Creegan responds icily, “There are no lines.” But Creegan isn’t the only one going to extremes. Susan sleeps with a suspect (no nudity, but explicit motion and sounds) and “rescues” a Ukrainian orphan by stealing her from Interpol.

Touching Evil doesn’t just dive into grim criminal activity and then glibly tie things up 50 minutes later like other cop shows. It’s not afraid to dwell on the really heavy issues that surround it. This can leave viewers awestruck by the services rendered by real-life police, paramedics and other public servants. It also conveys a palatable sense of gloom and desperation as women get strangled, children are abducted, bodies get mutilated and the human spirit all but implodes.

“Is there any way to keep our children safe?” asks the father of one victim. “No,” Creegan replies sadly. “When will that change?” returns the dad. “Never,” intones Creegan.

That mood is accentuated by gory images of crime scenes, rare but vehement misuses of Jesus’ name, unbleeped s-words, drug abuse and alcohol use.

After a man involved in one case tries to kill Creegan’s family, the agent asks aloud, “How can I touch all that and not have it brush off on them?” I’m left wondering the same thing about the effect of this TV series.

Episodes Reviewed: April 23, 30, May 7, 14, 2004

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