Copper on the BBC America

Kevin “Corky” Corcoran is a hard-case detective in New York’s Five Points neighborhood circa post-Civil War. He gives an egg to a starving child and doesn’t require pleasuring in return, so we know he’s a good hard-case detective.

And, like all damaged detectives on TV, Corky has a great loss in his past that drives him to look after the downtrodden. There are a whole lot of them in the grimy, raggedy streets of Tammany Hall-era New York. You can practically smell the period detail.

Also like all TV detectives, Corky is surrounded by a cast of morally sketchy characters who help him for various murky reasons. There’s a hooker (or two) with a heart of gold, and an old war buddy who’s the spoiled son of a powerful magnate. My favorite; the black doctor who Corky goes to for some clever, 19th-century CSI-ing, some involving bread dough and a wooden post.

The show boasts the standard excellent acting, directing, and film quality that’s kind of a baseline at the BBC. There’s class warfare, sexual politics, politics-politics, and slurry Irish accents. But one reviewer described it as a brawling bar fight of series, and it’s true: rough, raw, and bloody, Corky’s methods won’t be to everyone’s tastes. I want to see more.

About the only thing I didn’t like: the soundtrack/score. When the show sticks to source music, like The Sopranos used to, it works. The Irish-ish tunes are perfect for the neighborhood, the time period, and the mood. But then sappy strains creep into some scenes, blaring the message “poignant moment, poignant moment.” One reviewer called it going all steerage section of Titanic. Knock it off, music guys. Just give us the real stuff.

One big drawback to most shows on BBC America: the BBC, like HBO, doesn’t have commercials. So you’re watching a sometimes heavily-edited version of what the Brits see. (Why doesn’t BBC America run these quality shows in 90-minutes slots, adding even more commercials? I mean, how many repeat episodes of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares do they need to make room for on their schedule?)

Bonus: Copper is the BBC America’s first original scripted show. Look, ma, no edits!

Check out a preview and background info on BBCA online. You can even insert yourself into period mugshots, if you think Ma Barker was so hot. New episodes on Sunday night, BBC America. (The first two episodes are repeated Sunday, September 2.)

4.5 out of 5 stars

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4 Responses to Copper on the BBC America

  1. I remember when HBO had no commercials.

    Of course, this was back when you could buy leg warmers and Members Only jackets in day-glo colors, so maybe a commercialized HBO is worth some sort of trade-off… ๐Ÿ˜ˆ


  2. Chris Devlin says:

    Does HBO have commercials during their shows now? That’s a bummer. But yeah I remember legwarmers and Day-Glo members only jackets too. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Whew, when I saw the headline, I was terrified you would hate Copper since we seem to disagree on almost every show. I’m really liking the grit and realism BBC America is bringing to New York, especially the corruption of the police in the 1800’s. A couple of hot Irish guys doesn’t hurt either. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The CSI thing was my only pause to the show. While I love the doctor, from a background with forensics, I have a problem with anyone being able to ‘detect’ anything like the shape of a lion head cane as the murder weapon. But I’ll swallow my complaints, because the show does rock overall.

    BTW, looking forward to seeing you at the Gold and catching up. Last few times I’ve seen you I haven’t had a chance to trap you into talking with me and catching me up on your life.


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Trap me, trap me!

      I didn’t realize we disagreed so often. I just remember you like sappy Holiday movies on basic cable, and so figure we’re soulmates. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Yeah, the forensics stuff is probably terribly anachronistic. I think I just like the set-up, where everyone’s going to underestimate this doctor because he’s black and then he’ll secretly save the day–until they get caught. That kind of thing floats my boat.

      Can’t wait to see you in a few short days.


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