Public Morals TNT

Public Morals: Did TNT's Cop Drama Get On Your Good Side?

About 10 minutes into Tuesday’s series premiere of TNT’s Public Morals, NYPD Lt. King tells a newly hired officer, “It’s our job to curb all kinds of vice. That includes prostitution, pornography, degeneracy and the blue laws. You got that, my man?”

And although the rookie cop assures the lieutenant that he does get it, he quickly learns — as do those of us at home — that the police department’s Public Morals Division doesn’t “curb” vice as much as it sweeps vice under the rug.

The PMD is led by Terry Muldoon — played by Mob City‘s Ed Burns, who also created and wrote the series — and he’s a protagonist you’ll have no trouble rooting for. Even though he and his fellow cops walk a fine line between morality and corruption in the workplace, Terry is a hard-working family man whose side you assume you want to be on.

The rest of the department, though, is a colorful group of characters who find themselves working with the criminals more often than they’re locking them up. Take Charlie Bullman (Michael Rapaport, Justified), who — instead of arresting call girl Stacy Potter (Katrina Bowden, 30 Rock) for solicitation — decides to merely give her a ticket for loitering.

And then there’s Sean O’Bannon (Austin Stowell, The Secret Life of the American Teenager), another rookie cop who has a fractured relationship with his domestic abuser of a father (American Crime‘s Timothy Hutton). Throughout the series’ debut hour, you start to get the sense that there will never be any black-and-white matters on this show. When Hutton’s Mr. O is shot dead by an anonymous killer at the end of the episode, it becomes clear that Public Morals is one big gray area.

That said, the series isn’t like most other cop shows currently on the air. It’s gritty at times, sure, but it’s also very funny, and it never comes off as formulaic. Considering the deluge of fall shows that is about to hit the networks in a few weeks, here’s hoping Public Morals — a breath of fresh air in the cop-show genre — doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

OK, your turn. What did you think of the Public Morals series premiere? Grade the episode in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Cobra says:

    Hell of a premier episode. Here’s hoping people pay attention to this show and give it the attention it deserves. I can already sense that there may be some Emmy quality work in this show!

  2. Cobra says:

    Anyone who gave this a D or F in the poll should go back to watching “Two and a Half Men” reruns.

  3. rusty says:

    I was looking forward to this show. Set in the 60’s would show a lot of old school law in NYC. To me, it’s a hard show to watch. You want to like the cops but they are all on the take. The wife beater and local mob boss wanna be is killed. They come off as a bunch of money hunger jerks. I am tired of shows portraying most cops as bad. Sure there are some but an entire division? Not that it matters, but I gave a shot but it was a big disappointment, I won’t be watching it again.

  4. LynnH says:

    Excellent. I read somewhere that Burns has been working on this for 18 years. Glad it’s finally here. This is quality stuff.

  5. Boiler says:

    Sort of trolling hoping to see this is another bomb showing why they never should have cancelled Perception. I suppose 4 comments says it all.

  6. Joey Padron says:

    firest episode was good. surprised Tim’s character got killed off at end of episode. will keep watching. they have a good cast on the show.

    • Steve 2 says:

      Thanks for the spoiler.

    • herman1959 says:

      When Character A arrives on scene at a public place and loudly shouts at Character B, in front of everyone “I will kill you” Character B WILL turn up dead. Knowing this, I spent the rest of the episode waiting for the hit (grade C for story). That said, the look of the show was perfect (grade A). I’d average the two for a final grade of B.

  7. Amanda says:

    Loved it!!! I’ve been a fan of Ed Burns for about 16 years, when I was a teenager, and reading his recent memoir he talked about how he’d been trying to make this show as a couple different films for 20 years but he kept getting rejected by the studios. It turned out great and has such an amazing cast too. Very excited for the rest of the this season and hoping for a 2nd season too.

  8. smartysenior says:

    If the rookie with a powerful cop Father turns out to be a spy planted to catch the others this will be a good show. If the crooked cop division just keeps getting away with it then this will be a boring show. I liked the first episode simply because I believe the baby face new guy is a plant and that would amuse me enough to keep watching.

    • herman1959 says:


    • Amanda says:

      I have a feeling it will go that way. Ed Burns wrote in his memoir when talking about the show that his own father, who was a cop and became their press person, having to deal with the press in the late 60s and early 70s when a huge scandal came out about dirty cops in the NYPD was part of the inspiration for this. So I think this will go the same way with it heading to what really happened.

  9. Nero tTVfiddler says:

    I like that auto they drive – 1965 Chevy Impala. Having one of those is on my wish list/bucket list – 2 door coupe, blue.

    I don’t know which cop will make it to the ends of this series, but I do hope that car makes it through the entire series!

  10. Pat Farrell says:

    I really liked the show. Great acting from everyone. People that don’t understand those times and what it was to become a Vice cop. Most Police were raised Catholic, went to catholic schools and in those days you were raised in a very prudish way. Now take a young cop and put him on a Vice squad and to say it was a life of people they never knew existed. Every day you see the sick side of life. What does it do to you? So, you get really hard fast. So, glad they used the Irish Americans so it makes it all the more real to me. Congrats Ed Burns.

  11. mo says:

    Solid start. A little too heavy on the male perspective. Makes you wonder if Ed Burns wanted to make a show with a bunch of his Guy Friends that shows the good old days. Yes realize that the 1960s were that way but if you are going to trouble to have the male characters not be stereotypes maybe you should do the same with the female characters and give them some depth.

  12. Mike says:

    I lost interest after the 3rd episode. I was a huge fan of Mad Men and the Sopranos. This show feels like a copycat of great shows that have already been done. I love the 60s but I saw a lot of things that were historically incorrect. What I loved about Mad Men is that they did their research. All in all I found Public Morals to be kind of boring.

  13. Kellie Maron says:

    Missed first episode when us the recap on?

  14. coneyro says:

    Great start! A collection of some of my favorite actors. Timothy Hutton, gone already? WHY? Anything Michael Rapaport is on, I am watching. Ed Burns is amazing. Gritty realism of my hometown, NYC, in the ’60’s. The Law & Order SVU of its time. I am only afraid that after fans get invested in this show, we will get “rewarded” by its cancellation. But for now, I am all in.

  15. bill says:

    It is a good period peace but when they say they want to be authentic to the 60’s they need to look at the telephones. The phone companies were not using modular line and handset cords . Also if you made call you needed to dial 7 digits . I know most people will not notice but us old phone installers do .

  16. Marie Schiumo says:

    As of now, my favorite show.