'Graceland' hews close to USA formula

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USA Network, already the home of sun-soaked "Royal Pains," heads back to the beach with the darker, grittier -- but still Blue Sky friendly! -- new drama "Graceland" (10 p.m. Thursday).

The show's essentially a police procedural with a continuing story that quietly but slowly churns in the background.

Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit, "Gossip Girl," "Les Miserables") is a recent FBI Academy grad who anticipates a Washington, D.C., desk job but finds himself shipped out to Southern California to live in a house with other FBI, DEA and U.S. Customs agents. The house is nicknamed Graceland and it was seized from a drug lord who was an Elvis fan.

'Graceland'

Where: 10 p.m. Thursday, USA.

Starring: Aaron Tveit, left, and Daniel Sunjata.

Mike is a confident, quick-thinking newbie who excels at undercover work in a way that belies his boy-next-door, wholesome appearance.

His new boss is laid-back, sometimes lazy FBI agent Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata, "Rescue Me"), who has a bit of a mysterious backstory -- he used to be a suit, but now he's all Zen and likes to surf. Joe "Johnny" Tuturro is Briggs' tattooed lackey who gets tasked with meeting Mike when he arrives at the airport.

Mike is walking into a house in transition and not everyone wants him there.

U.S. Customs agent Dale "D.J." Jakes (Brandon Jay McLaren) gets after Mike for drinking his orange juice. FBI agent Catherine "Charlie" DeMarco (Vanessa Ferlito) and DEA agent Paige Arkin (Serinda Swan) are patented TV tough women who don't have a lot to distinguish them beyond that attribute in the pilot.

"Graceland," created by "White Collar" executive producer Jeff Eastin, has more jagged edges than most USA series but it's still escapist, relatively light, procedural programming. The show may not hold the attention of TV fans who crave complex storytelling -- there's not much for fans of psychologically intriguing character development to dig into -- but for viewers who enjoy a steady USA diet, "Graceland" may darken the network's Blue Sky programming approach just enough to intrigue. The pilot episode runs long and will air with limited commercial interruptions from 10-11:14 p.m.

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