Michelle Dockery gets un-Lady-like in TNT's 'Good Behavior'

Michelle Dockery stars in TNT's "Good Behavior"

(CNN)Actors sometimes like to shake up their image after being closely associated with a role, and "Downton Abbey's" Michelle Dockery has done that -- and then some -- with "Good Behavior." Much better than its log line would suggest, this TNT drama proves initially gripping, with the disclaimer that it's very unclear whether it can stay that way.

The series reunites the "Wayward Pines" creative team, with Blake Crouch, author of that and the Letty Dobesh books on which this show is based, teaming with producer Chad Hodge. The story focuses on Dockery's Letty, a con artist just paroled from prison, whose life takes a dramatic turn when she winds up in a hotel room at the wrong time.
Letty is robbing the place, but she's forced to hide when the guest, Javier (Juan Diego Botto), enters. Turns out that he's a hitman, in the process of being hired to murder a woman by the intended victim's husband.
Against her better judgment, Letty seeks to prevent the killing. But that draws her into Javier's orbit, in a manner that spirals dramatically out of control, as she becomes his reluctant accomplice, and, under the stress, falls off the sobriety wagon.
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    Tonally, "Good Behavior" is quite similar to TNT's most recent drama, "Animal Kingdom," with both shows topping the premise thanks to the strength of the writing and performances, which push toward premium-cable territory. (Like CNN, TNT is part of Turner Broadcasting.)
    Much of that has to do with Dockery, who, beyond modeling an assortment of un-Lady-like outfits (certainly relative to the frocks in her last series), invests Letty with an assortment of qualities -- resourceful and defiant, yet also vulnerable and frightened.
    The main question, as the episodes progress, is how long the two principals can maintain their elaborate game of cat and mouse before the producers write themselves into one corner too many. That's always a concern with this sort of thriller, but perhaps especially pronounced here given the uncomfortable dynamics of the Letty-Javier relationship, as well as the way "Wayward Pines" started well before the Fox series spun off the rails.
    For now, though, Dockery's star power compensates for most of the concerns and shortcomings. And "Good Behavior" -- which opens with a two-hour premiere -- gets off to a pretty good start.
    "Good Behavior" premieres November 15 at 9 p.m. on TNT.