Fox last night launched a TV crime drama—K-Ville—that has sparked a fierce debate over the line between truth-seeking and exploitation. K-Ville is filmed and set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and some critics are praising the show for setting up shop in an area that desperately needs a boost to its economy. But others say it’s a cheap attempt to cash in on the Gulf Coast’s misery.

Who on Earth thought this show was a good idea? said Robert Bianco in USA Today. “It’s possible America is ready for an overheated, buddy-cop throwback to Starsky and Hutch, or for a pulp drama set in New Orleans—though my bet is that it’s too late for the former and too early for the latter.” That this show combines both makes matters even worse. And not only is the timing of this show bad, it’s also in “excruciatingly bad taste.”

There are good things and bad things about K-Ville being filmed in New Orleans, said Bill Carter in The New York Times (free registration). On one hand, it has given a boost to the local economy, provided lots of new jobs, and allowed “New Orleans to reclaim some attention from a nation that seems to have moved on to other concerns.” But on the other hand, it means building scenes “around abandoned homes, glimpses of still-present piles of debris and story lines that inevitably focus on crime: something that New Orleans continues to have in abundance.”

The fact that K-Ville is shot in New Orleans only adds to the show’s appeal, said The “flood ravaged” city “makes for an unsettling locale for a cop show.” Serving to intensify the mood is the “wobbly, hand-held action,” which further captures “the uneasy flavor of the Big Easy.” This is one of the best shows of the fall TV season.