Copper – Killer TV no.50

WELCOME to our first entry in KILLER TV – 50 CRIME SHOWS THAT BLOW US AWAY. In coming months we will count down the 50 great TV crime series and thrillers that are unforgettable and gripping. Some are decades old, some are new, some are American, some British, while others are part of the new wave of European crime dramas. Here is the first entry…
Copper, Season 2. BBC America
Corky Corcoran, front with gun, and the main cast of Copper. Pic: BBC America/Cineflix


BBC America, 2012-13
Tom Weston-Jones, Kyle Schmid, Anastasia Griffith, Franka Potente, Ato Essandoh
‘You want a fair fight? You’re talking to the wrong feller.’ – Detective Kevin ‘Corky’ Corcoran
Identikit: Irish immigrant detective Kevin Corcoran brutally polices the wild melting pot that is 1860s Five Points in New York, while attempting to discover what happened to his disappeared wife and murdered daughter.
logosSo much of 20th-century America has been mapped out by TV crime series and films, while the 19th-century has been viewed in terms of Westerns and frontier tales. With the exception of Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, there have been few glimpses of the great city’s violent emergence as a modern metropolis. Copper takes us there again, and in two series immerses the audience in a city at an explosive moment in its history, beset by race riots and crime, but on the cusp of a new future as the Civil War comes to an end. Kevin ‘Corky’ Corcoran is an Irish immigrant who came to America as a child, took up boxing (winning one bout after 63 rounds), and then went off to fight in the war. On his return he finds his wife has disappeared and his daughter has been murdered, so while he works as a detective apprehending (and robbing) thieves and investigating murders, he also tries to discover what happened to his family. Corky – a perfectly rugged Tom Weston-Jones – is a hero who’s handily placed to give us a broad view of New York at this time, with his connections at the whorehouse, with the aristocracy (he served in the army with Robert Morehouse, son of a wealthy city businessman) and with Matthew Freeman, the black man who served with Corcoran and Morehouse, and who after the war secretly works with the detective using his medical skills to help investigate murders. Storylines, such as an Ripper Street is an action show dropped on Victorian London, Copper is a more thoughtful exploration of the period. The series, which counted Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson among it executive producers, got off to a strong start, with warm reviews and setting a record for a BBC America series premiere (it was also the network’s first originally scripted show), but sadly it lost momentum during series 2 despite Donal Logue, Billy Baldwin and Alfre Woodward joining the cast. All of which was a shame, because when Copper worked, it was a riveting insight into an amazing period.

Tom Weston-Jones as Corky Corcoran in Copper. BBC America
Tom Weston-Jones as Corky

early one in which Corcoran thwarts an aristo who has murdered a child prostitute, are well developed against the historical setting. Where a series such as the BBC’s UK drama 

Classic episode: The final episode opens with the body of President Lincoln lying in state in New York’s City Hall. Corcoran, Morehouse and Freeman join the hunt for assassin John Wilkes Booth, the trio confronting their own haunted memories of the war in a country traumatised by the President’s murder.

Watercooler fact: Spooks fans (MI-5 to American viewers) may remember Tom Weston-Jones from the Beeb’s spy series, in which he played Sasha Gavrik, the FSB agent. He’s an English actor, born in Burton upon Trent.

Copper can currently be watched on Lovefilm in the UK

NEXT: 49 Brotherhood

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