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Since the demise of Kojak and then The Equalizer, no television show has ever loved the physical fact of New York City as much as Miami Vice loved Miami. All sitcoms belong to some Southern California sound-studio terrarium, with ethnic inflections imported like bagels. In the dramatic series department, Dick Wolf works hard in Law & Order and its sex-crimes spin-off, but his shrewdest urbanscape, New York Undercover, spent too much time in the wrong neighborhoods to survive. Steven Bochco periodically parachutes down a camera crew to shoot exteriors for NYPD Blue so we’ll know we aren’t in Toronto. But the brand-new Wonderland has a better feel for everything from Times Square at high noon to the Roosevelt Island tram. Of course, in the end, a New York show is all about writing, acting, and sensibility. Which is why the best one, Northern Exposure, was just as happy in Alaska.
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