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Bad call: Meagan Good has little spark as show's lead.
THE BEST thing NBC's new "Deception" has going for it is the story, in which a police detective goes undercover to infiltrate the sinister family of a former friend found dead under suspicious circumstances.
The weakest part of the show, which features many of the same themes as the ABC series "Revenge," is the cast, with too many roles played by actors bordering on bland.
The criticism starts with Meagan Good as Joanna Padget Locasto, who growing up was best friends with a rich girl named Vivian Bowers.
Locasto had a falling out years ago with the friend she spent most of her youth with at the girl's estate. But she's forced to revisit the friendship when her former police partner, now with the FBI, arrives to share the news of Bowers' death.
She's supposedly the victim of an overdose, but neither Locasto or her former partner (Laz Alonso as Will Moreno) believe that. Soon enough, Locasto is encouraged to drop in on the family, treading on her former friendship to gain access.
From there, the series takes off as we meet the many flawed folks who make up the Bowers family, a rich but morally shaky family that owns a huge pharmaceutical firm.
Good is just passable as Locasto, not doing anything to make her unique or memorable.
Instead, she's seemingly content to simply let her undercover character simply wind its way in and out of family secrets and danger from unexplained thugs.
In a show like this, you need the lead to be the lightning rod, the one who makes you want to come back and visit every month.
Unfortunately, Good just isn't good at making that happen.
Better is the head of the Bowers family, Victor Garber. The "Lost" star immediately pulls you in, both reaching out to his daughter's best friend and trying to tame a family that includes a mean son, a sweet son and a conniving trophy wife.
It's enough to make you think somebody saw too many episodes of "Dallas" or "Falcon Crest" growing up.
Into this mix toss the Bowers son who Good once had a romance with, the FBI agent who was sweet on her and still may be, and a teen-age Bowers girl who may be the victim's sister.
Or her daughter, depending on whom you choose to believe.
The problem with this show, as it is with "Revenge," is that it's hard to keep these "person posing as someone else" shows going.
How long before someone in the Bowers family--probably the nasty older son, Edward, played by Tate Donovan--gets proof that the sweet Joanna isn't hanging around for old time's sake.
And as things get more complicated and, probably, more dangerous and twisted, how can anyone believe that a reasonable detective would stay under cover?
Of course, I said the same about the challenge facing "Revenge" and it's still on the air.
Given the less-interesting cast in this one, I'm not sure that will be true as the season continues.
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415
WANT TO WATCH?What: "Deception" When: Mondays at 10 Where: NBC