TELEVISION: Polishing Up the Badge

This fall oodles of police dramas give a tried, true but tired genre a mostly superficial make-over

In a day when homeland security and amber alerts have informally deputized every Shoney's customer and freeway commuter, TV is reflecting reality: this fall it seems everyone is on the beat. There's the cabbie who solves crimes (CBS's Hack), the ex-cop who sees ghosts (UPN's Haunted) and the amnesiac genius who helps nab crooks (Fox's John Doe). What stands out is that several of the shows are packaging their hoary stories in some of the flashiest visuals on TV. As the old 7-Up slogan goes, they're the same thing, only different.

The old-crime-in-new-bottles strategy owes a lot to the forensics hit...

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