"Village" gives us a world that's warm, caring ... and maybe realistic


TV sometimes has
idealized worlds, where people know and care for every neighbor.

It's had Mayberry
and Walton's Mountain and Smurfs Village and such. And now, it has
... well, a chunk of New York City.

Lorraine Toussaint,
who stars, says that's believable. “'The Village' is not at all
foreign to me,” she said. “It's an old New York that I knew.”

She's not sure if
there are still areas like this -- “gentrification can take away
some of the family elements” -- but she knows it's possible.

In NBC's “Village,”
an older couple (Toussaint and Frankie Faison) provides the core for
neighbors who know each other. There 's a cop, a law student, a war
veteran; there are single moms – one from Iran, the other a nurse
with an activist, artistic teen-ager.

They've had crises –
from teen pregnancy to old age, plus cancer, war injuries and
immigration trouble – but they've done it together. That's what
Toussaint finds believable.

She was 10 when she
moved with her mother (a teacher) from Trinidad to New York, around
1970.

That was “when
Hell's Kitchen was still Hell's Kitchen .... We had pay phones on the
corner (and) I knew everyone in my building.” If a junkie blocked
her way “I would go to the corner and call one of my neighbors (to)
walk me home safely.”

It was a
togetherness world, she said. “We had picnics. We had real family
in that building.”

Toussaint graduated
from the High School for the Performing Arts, studied Shakespeare at
Juilliard and starred in “Any Day Now,” confronting racial issues
in Alabama. It “was groundbreaking .... We were talking about
things that I think still we're unable to talk about.”

Except, maybe, in
this Brooklyn village, where neighbors link to fight life's crises.

-- “The Village,”
10 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC, debuting March 19