* BACKSTROM. 9 tonight, Fox 29.

"I'M YOU."

You'll hear Rainn Wilson say that, or some variation of that, a lot if you follow the "Office" star to his new series, "Backstrom," which premieres tonight on Fox.

Maybe you'll find it as annoying as I do, which is OK, because Detective Everett Backstrom is meant to be annoying, and Wilson's giving it his all.

The character's taken from novels by Swedish mystery writer Leif G.W. Persson that we probably don't need to read. According to the show's creator, Hart Hanson ("Bones"), the Swedish Backstrom "has absolutely no redeeming values. He's not even a very good detective. . . . He just takes credit for what other people do."

Wilson's Backstrom is merely a physical wreck with terrible social skills who's given to flashes of brilliance. If Hugh Laurie's "House" had relocated to Portland, Ore., and taken up crime-solving, he'd still look too healthy to play the part.

It's annoying to be told that a show whose pilot isn't terrific gets better in subsequent episodes, but like Backstrom, I have a job to do.

Hanson's experience in managing a first-rate ensemble on "Bones" comes to the fore by the third episode, when Dennis Haysbert ("24") gets more to do. His character, an able cop moonlighting as a minister, could be worth a series in itself, but there are hints that his isn't the only backstory at least as interesting as Backstrom's. (It doesn't hurt that the story that week is the most compelling so far.)

Surrounded by people giving him the benefit of many doubts, Backstrom for now might be best seen through their eyes.

- Ellen Gray

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray