By Matt Wolf
The Associated Press
What keeps Keen Eddie keen?
Being in Britain, says Mark Valley, who plays a brash American detective abroad in a new Fox cop show (9 p.m. today, Channels 19, 45).
Valley is Eddie Arlette, who botched a sting operation for the NYPD and was then relocated to Scotland Yard in London to rehabilitate his career.
"He's just constantly experiencing life," said Valley, 38, "gaining his confidence back as each episode goes on."
The Fox series co-stars English actor Julian Rhind-Tutt as Monty Pippin, the British detective partnered with Arlette.
Sienna Miller plays Fiona, Eddie's alternately frosty and flirtatious British housemate. Colin Salmon is Johnson, the supercilious police superintendent who keeps his eye on the often luckless Eddie.
In the episode "Knuckle Punch," Eddie finds himself in the netherworld of London fight clubs up against a knucklebuster with a penchant for Monty Python.
In a later episode, "Achtung Baby," Eddie is assigned to shadow a lusty German opera singer, Liese Kohl (played by British comedian Josie Lawrence), who is being plagued by a stalker.
Throughout, Eddie is the American expatriate aware of English differences. "Only three channels," an aghast Eddie notes of English TV, when in fact there are five.
Eddie, says Valley, "is a little bit overenthusiastic."
The actor smiled: "It's like, 'Oh, wow, the buses are red; they're ALL red.' Eddie is enthusiastic about things people normally aren't enthusiastic about, particularly in Britain."
As Eddie, Valley is the American in London, settling into a Notting Hill flat and drawing his own conclusions about Britain's enticements, both culinary and cultural.
How does he feel about tea? "I like it, (but) what's the big deal? You put in a little sugar, and it's all right."
What about opera, the glamorous milieu of episode nine? "It's one of those things you're going to love it or leave it alone; I leave it alone."
How does Eddie mesh with Monty? Very well, says Valley, though their personalities are different: "Nothing surprises Monty. He's been through it all ... ."
In a separate interview during a set visit in January, Rhind-Tutt spoke of the way the series works. "There are a lot of cultural understandings and misunderstandings; there's a lot we can play through."
To start with, the two detectives are distinctly attired, Eddie in corduroy and Monty in a pink shirt that, coupled with his flowing hair, makes him look distinctly foppish.
"I'm not quite sure about the truth of how sharply dressed they are at the real Scotland Yard," smiles Rhind-Tutt, a British theater actor who played one of the journalists sent to interview Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill. While Rhind-Tutt sees Valley's Eddie as "a sexy version of Columbo," Monty, in turn, flies the flag for British sartorial spiffiness.
"It makes good sense with the tradition of English tailoring that maybe I went for something a bit smarter," Rhind-Tutt said.
The show was created by J.H. Wyman, who is also an executive producer and principal writer.
"It's got heart, and this is what I'm after," says Wyman, 35. He speaks of Monty and Eddie "finding a common ground. That can happen; that's what the connection is."
Daisy Fuentes and Billy Bush host the 52nd annual Miss Universe pageant live from Panama (9 p.m., Channels 5, 22).
Seven strangers head to France for the premiere of Real World XIII: Paris (10 p.m., MTV).
John Kiesewetter contributed to this report.
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