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‘Against the Wall’ guilty of reckless use of Chicago cliches

Rachael Carpani (right with MarisRamirez) plays an Internal Affairs detective Lifetime’s new series “Against Wall.”

Rachael Carpani (right, with Marisa Ramirez) plays an Internal Affairs detective on Lifetime’s new series “Against the Wall.”

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9 to 10 p.m. Sundays on Lifetime

Updated: May 9, 2012 9:40AM

If nothing else, the first episode of Lifetime’s cop-family drama “Against the Wall” (premiering tonight) could inspire a liver-pummeling drinking game. Every time the Chicago-set (but not Chicago-based) show depicts or mentions a famous person or institution or landmark connected to the city, gulp a shot (of beer, of vodka, of Zima — whatever’s your poison). By the end, which comes too slowly, you’ll probably be good and toasted.

For starters, there’s a flurry of L trains, the lake, the skyline, the river, the skyline. And guess what music accompanies this done-to-death montage? You are correct! It’s “Sweet Home, Chicago.” That tired tune should be banned from the soundtracks of Chicago-centric TV programs, movies, sports competitions and slide presentations forevermore.

Provincial lameness continues throughout with mentions of the Bears, the Stanley Cup, the Cubs, Millennium Park, the “Sears Tower,” the Bears — at this point, more than likely, you’re kneeling before the porcelain god and praying for deliverance.

Mercifully, there are reprieves, namely scenes in which tender-and-tough 30-year-old former Chicago beat cop Abby Kowalski (Rachael Carpani) is challenged and guilt-riddled by her new job with Internal Affairs. Her brothers are cops, her dad’s a cop, her friends are cops. Not surprisingly, they despise cops who investigate cops — which just so happens to be Abby’s new job. (I.A. was the only department that had a detective opening, and she couldn’t pass up the promotion.)

And so she attempts, at work and home, to make peace with her decision and do her duty without totally alienating her erstwhile allies in blue. Dramatic tension! Surreptitious sex with her brother’s patrol partner, instigated by Abby, is nerve-calming only to a small degree. Reality quickly re-intrudes.

“There’s a code that we live by, that every cop lives by,” declares her teed-off father after Abby fearfully reveals her snitchy affiliation. “We protect our own.” A true enough sentiment tritely expressed. And while Abby desperately wants the old man’s approval, her hard-headedness and self-possession apparently are such that ambition trumps capitulation.

“Ever since you could crawl,” says her mom (Kathy Baker), “you’ve been out to prove a point.”

Despite the pilot’s pandering localism and cliched proclamations (about the town, the police, the teams), “Against the Wall” features some watchable performances (from Carpani and Baker, in particular) and a premise that might yield interesting developments down the line.

For now, though, drink up.

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