Showtimes Mean Streak Hits Cliché Cycle

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Showtime's latest original-movie crime drama, Mean
Streak
, is centered on a fictional African-American Major League Baseball player's
pursuit of the sport's last unattainable record -- Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.
But this out-by-a-mile effort isn't likely to make it into the record book.

Mean Streak stars Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula in
the role of every clichéd Italian-American New York City cop -- Lou Mattoni of the
Bronx's 55th Precinct -- and Leon as equally boilerplate straight-laced
African-American FBI agent Altman Rodgers (even the names come from central casting).

Detective Mattoni doesn't have the most enlightened racial
attitudes, and the film continually reminds viewers of this as subtly as one might hit
someone else over the head with a sledgehammer.

The two lead characters are thrown together because someone
has been sending the dismembered thumbs of young, black murder victims to star ballplayer
Cash Manley (Howard Dell), in a bid to stop him from his pursuit of Joe D.'s milestone.

The scenario bears an eerie resemblance to a case involving
a serial killer that Mattoni had cracked years before -- an ex-high-school teacher from
Long Island nicknamed "Tom Thumb." The cop begins pursuing that suspect, who
kept a DiMaggio shrine in his underground lair.

Mattoni and Rodgers chase the suspect to Teaneck, N.J.,
only to find that he's been dead for some time. It turns out that Tom Thumb's son is out
to get Mattoni, but the script doesn't explain the killer's roundabout choice of a
vengeance plot.

That's because the writers are too busy trying to make
their profound statement about the state of U.S. race relations (racism: bad). They do
this through forced interactions between Maddox and Mattoni, the living embodiment of
every cop-movie cliché.

The baseball settings are even less authentic than Bakula's
tortured, Boston-esque Bronx accent. The ballpark used to stand in for 76-year-old Yankee
Stadium (in the film, home of the "New York Titans") is easily recognizable to
casual baseball fans -- Toronto's futuristic Skydome.

Mean Streak premieres on Showtime Sunday, June 27, at 9
p.m.

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