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Starz crimer leans on the 'Power' of hip-hop.

Power Series; Starz, Sat. June 7,9 p.m.

Writer: Courtney Kemp Agboh

Starring: Omari Hardwick, Lela Loren

A pay-cable crime soap with a hip-hop beat, "Power" counts Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson among its exec producers, and draws liberally from a rich history of mob yarns. By that measure, this Starz series musters occasional moments--mostly courtesy of its charismatic star, Omari Hardwick--but has a second-tier feel, with the familiar theme of the drug dealer who yearns to go legit, despite the forces standing between him and dreams of dying from old age. Violent, sexy and slick, the show feels like it's sampling riffs from movies and TV of yore.

Of course, Starz chief Chris Albrecht had to know the territory that the show seeks to navigate represents something of a minefield, having been at HBO during those halcyon "Sopranos" years. And while "Power" sets itself apart through casting and venue, the cops-and-robbers machinations, double-crosses and family concerns all feel plucked from earlier leaps into this sandbox.

At the center of it all is James St. Patrick (Hardwick, previously seen in "Being Mary Jane"), so adept at managing his street business he's known merely as "Ghost," since no one can connect him to his well-mediated drug-dealing apparatus. But his new passion involves an upscale New York club, offering the means to launder his money and potentially provide the pathway to an escape from his illicit dealings.

Alas, Ghost's plans don't receive much support from his longtime running buddy/enforcer Tommy (Joseph Sikora) or even his wife Tasha ("The Playboy Club's" Naturi Naughton, like a lot of the cast, showing off more than a Bunny outfit). Even with their young children to worry about, Tasha keeps reassuring her husband he's so good at the drug game, he can beat the odds.

That business, however, is under siege, with unknown parties robbing his couriers, and a ruthless foreign supplier breathing down his neck. Moreover, there's the additional complication of an old high-school girlfriend (Lela Loren) suddenly walking back into his life.

The three previewed episodes of the show, created by "The Good Wife" alumna Courtney Kemp Agboh, move briskly enough, but they're still only moderately compelling. And while 50 Cent's participation provides some promotional heft (he has a cameo in a later episode), the allure of such behind-the-scenes marquee names is usually limited.

Mostly, this is undemanding escapism with all the requisite pay-TV trappings, along the lines of what Cinemax is offering in episodic form.

CREDITS: Filmed in New York by Atmosphere Television and C Unit Film & Television in association with CBS Television Studios. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS. Courtney Kemp Agboh, David Knoller, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Randall Emmett, Mark Canton; DIRECTOR, Anthony Hemingway; writer, Agboh; CAMERA. Tim Ives; CASTING. Vickie Thomas, running TIME: 60 MIN.

CAST: Omari Hardwick, Lela Loren, Naturi Naughton, Joseph Sikora, Andy Bean, Adam Huss, Kathrine Narducci, Luis Antonio Ramos, Greg Serano, Sinqua Walls, Lucy Walters

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Author:Lowry, Brian
Publication:Variety
Date:Jun 3, 2014
Words:485
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