Reflecting the strides since “Dragnet” and “Adam-12,” Falco’s title character (a nickname for Abigail Thomas) isn’t just distinctive because she’s a woman, but also a lesbian. Moreover, she’s joining the department as a transplanted New Yorker — still living out of a hotel when the show begins — after a sexual-harassment scandal helped topple the job’s previous occupant.
Like so many CBS shows, “Tommy” spoons out personal details about its central character — and the team surrounding her — while going about the business of dealing with particular cases, in a manner that puts the new chief out in the field investigating cases more often than is remotely plausible.
Still, there are solid serialized elements woven into the show, as Tommy gets acclimated to the various political challenges she faces. The hurdles include skeptics within the department, the ambitions and concerns of the mayor (Thomas Sadoski) and, of course, her own family, as she reconnects with the estranged adult daughter (Olivia Lucy Phillip) she alienated while pursuing her career.
Created by Paul Attanasio (“Bull” and “Homicide: Life on the Street”), “Tommy” is in some respects as familiar as cop shows of the distant past — think “Ironside,” for those old enough to remember — but freshens the formula by incorporating timely storylines, and a wry sensibility that plays to Falco’s strengths. (She notably followed “Sopranos” with another long-running pay-TV series, “Nurse Jackie.”)
In the opening episode, ICE agents are thwarted by an LAPD officer in rounding up an immigrant woman and her child, and a later hour wades into the #MeToo movement, with the murder of a studio mogul.
For all the weightier aspects, the show is perhaps most enjoyable during smaller moments that Falco conjures, like an exhausted Tommy returning to her room and ordering a side of mashed potatoes and bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from room service.
Lately, the broadcast drama has a hard time competing for attention with shinier objects in the pay and streaming universes. But operating within those parameters, Falco’s leadership quickly vaults “Tommy” to near the top of its class.
“Tommy” premieres Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. on CBS.