Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pilot Review: Copper

Copper (BBC America)
Premiered August 19 at 10pm

For anyone tired of typical procedurals, here’s the chance to see some good old-fashioned law and corruption back in 1864. Anyone who has passed through the subway in Times Square over the past few months has doubtless seen advertisements for BBC America’s first original show, which means that it’s British television produced specifically for American audiences. Clearly there’s a market for such things, if the success of “Downton Abbey” is any indication, and this is just the first instance of what’s sure to be a successful fad. I’m not sure what expectations of “In 1864, he was New York’s finest” viewers should have. This first hour was expectedly dense and dark, but most great dramas require some getting used to the characters and the world they inhabit. This one stinks of lawlessness and the rich abusing their wealth to get away with whatever they’d like, and straight arrow Kevin Corcoran isn’t going to stand for any of that. Having the silent support of someone like Elizabeth Haverford may prove helpful, but he’s still going to need to navigate carefully as the 19th-century equivalent of an internal affairs officer. This show is enhanced by the frequent reminders of the time period, mostly related to the status of African-Americans in the North in the midst of the Civil War. There aren’t too many recognizable faces in the cast, save for Anastasia Griffith, recently seen on “Once Upon a Time,” and Franka Potente of “The Bourne Identity.” This one may take some time to warm up to, but I imagine it will soon find its funk.

How will it work as a series? Now that he has seen firsthand how good policework can lead to the most deplorable of cover-ups, Kevin is going to work increasingly hard to both solve cases on his own and to try to change the system from within. The show has just a ten-episode first season order, which should allow for covering enough ground without reaching too far.
How long will it last? A while, to be sure. The pilot airing ranked as the most-watched series premiere ever on the network, which is a big deal since it’s also the first solo BBC America venture. Given the extensive advertising that went into it, I think that this show is ripe for an early renewal.

Pilot grade: B-

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