It has been said before that the real star of this show is the City itself, with its charismatic blend of scenic vistas and cold cement alleyways. Having only gotten halfway through the first season, I must admit that this is the thing that keeps me coming back more than any other facet of the show. The endless parade of long-defunct nightclubs, restaurants and stores play a role in each episode, and indeed, seem to have a story of their own.
The dramatic element of this series is pretty lightweight by contemporary standards though, and there isn't a whole lot of intrigue or heavy tension, as you might expect from cop shows like the Wire, for instance.
Instead, each episode presents a quirky case that must be solved within the four acts of the main story. No real mystery ever develops, and no loose ends are left dangling afterwards, although an epilogue closes each episode.
Karl Malden's hammy "buddy boy" exclamations and throwback fashion sense grow on you after a while, and the depth of Michael Douglas' acting ability is a pleasant surprise. Its a show well worth watching if you've spent enough time in San Francisco to recognize any of the places in the background.