"Lady Blue," starring Jamie Rose as a maverick cop in Chicago, rivals "Dirty Harry" in the body-count department. The two-hour ABC movie, airing tonight at 9 on Channel 7, is so crammed with the freshly killed that it looks like the city morgue. This is a movie in which stiffs turn up among the mourners at funerals for mass-murder victims, and mere fender-benders result in coffins scattered all over the road.
The rampant carnage in Robert Vincent O'Neil's script -- which overpowers, and eventually sours, what could have been an agreeably fast-paced show -- is matched only by its rampant larceny. O'Neil steals shamelessly from "The French Connection" -- notably the famous car-train chase scene, shrunk to TV scale on the Chicago El -- and a fistful of Clint Eastwood movies.
The red-haired, long-legged Rose plays homicide detective Katy Mahoney, a sexy law-woman with a deadly aim, who frequently finds herself in excessive-use-of-force hearings. The movie's opening scene, in which Katy interrupts her pedicure to foil a bank robbery across the street, leaves little doubt as to why.
"Look, I have three down and one bought it," Katy tells a fellow officer, in tones usually reserved for shopping lists, after spraying the bank with bullets. When she returns to the beauty parlor to resume her pedicure, the other patrons, far from cheering her exploit, stare at her dumbly -- and just a little fearfully.
It's a nice touch by director Gary Nelson, who manages the whole bloody business with professional aplomb. The problem is, it's not a pretty business, and after a while, it's a rather tiresome business -- a textbook example of gratuitous TV violence.
Rose is joined in the mayhem by Danny Aiello, her gruff but indulgent superior (de rigueur in cop dramas) and Tony Lo Bianco, her charming partner/lover, who cheats on his wife (and ends up dead). Child actor Ajay Naidu plays Paquito, a worldly-wise waif whom Katy befriends (after a nicely comic scene in which she chases him through a men's health club).
Katy Jurado plays Don a Maria Teresa Alcazar, a cocaine queen with a heart of iron, and the beleaguered Jim Brown puts in an appearance as a South Side drug czar.
Brown's character gives Katy a chance to strut her machismo, if that's the right word, when she confronts him on his own turf, a South Side saloon. "Today we deal, tomorrow's a new day," she informs him with a coquettish smile, having just terrorized the saloon's patrons a la Gene Hackman in "The French Connection." "I catch you crossing the line, I'll bust your butt."
When it comes to "Lady Blue," you'd better believe she'll do at least that.