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Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

‘Runaway Squad’ shows grim reality

April 5, 2010

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Former New York City cops with tough hides, hearts of gold and stomachs for bottomless cups of coffee have formed the “Runaway Squad” (9 p.m., A&E). And they “star” in the new docudrama dedicated to opening viewers’ eyes to the million-plus kids who run away from home each year. Many of them fall into gang life, prostitution or worse. Too many don’t survive, and as squad leader Joe Mazzilli sees it, too few people know or care.

“Runaway” unfolds a little like “America’s Most Wanted” in reverse. Instead of following a famous criminal, we are submerged into a private tragedy, most often a sole parent whose child has vanished and whose trail has grown cold.

In the pilot, the search for a missing Haitian immigrant teen takes us to some grim territory by means of traditional shoe leather and cyber-detective work using the chip from a cell phone she left behind.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to Mazzilli’s work is after he finds the girl and returns her to her mother. Then, the tough guy with the thick accent becomes a Dr. Phil of sorts, counseling both women to get to the bottom of the unspoken problems and events that drove the teen out the door. If they don’t, he figures, it’s only a matter of weeks before she leaves again.

“Runaway” unfolds like a cautionary tale and should be required viewing for young people contemplating a life on the streets.

• Tonight’s special “Christian Siriano: Having a Moment” (9 p.m., Bravo) catches up with the 2007 “Project Runway” winner as he designs a fashion show for his own line while continually fending off interruptions from visiting family members and needy celebrities (Tori Spelling, Katrina Bowden and Mena Survari).

Siriano was always a lovable brat who more than compensated for his prima donna behavior with a confidence that only an enormous talent can back up. He also appears to be emotionally grounded. We meet both his boyfriend (a Brooklyn musician) and his mother (now a retired Baltimore housewife) who both think Siriano should eat more vegetables. Now that’s love.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The spies regroup on “Chuck” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Dawn breaks and doom beacons on a two-hour episode of “24” (7 p.m., Fox), now officially in its final season.

• Nancy breaks the rules on “Trauma” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Butler and Duke meet in the NCAA Basketball Championship Game (8 p.m., CBS).

• A vet’s abandoned body sparks an investigation on “Law & Order” (9 p.m., NBC).

• A murder at a museum may have occult overtones on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).

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