Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Show: Copper, BBC America, Sundays at 10/9c
The Pedigree: Copper was created by Tom Fontana (Homicide, Oz) and Will Rokos (Southland). Barry Levinson (also of Homicide and Oz) is among the executive producers. The pilot was directed by veteran Jeff Woolnough (Bones, The Vampire Diaries, Being Erica, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, etc.).
The Cast & How You Know Them: Tom Weston-Jones (MI-5 stars as Detective Kevin Corcoran. Other regulars include Kevin Ryan (Raw), Ato Essandoh (Damages, Blue Bloods), Franka Potente (The Shield), Kyle Schmid (Being Human), Anastasia Griffith (Once Upon a Time, Royal Pains), Dylan Taylor (Defying Gravity), and Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars).
The Premise: Copper is a police drama set in a rapidly changing New York City in 1864; the focus on crime-solving gives it an entry point to weave together stories from several different ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
What Works: I really enjoyed this particular historical setting – 1864 New York is a fascinating time when a lot of things were changing, and the show does a very good job of portraying this change and the way it affected everyone from the upper class to Irish cops to newly socially semi-mobile African-Americans. (Remember, the Civil War is still going on at this point.) The early forensic science is fascinating as well, and the cast is solid.
What Doesn’t: The production values aren’t always great, so some of the sets are less convincing than others. The show does better when it’s letting itself be a traditional historical drama rather than trying to be “gritty.” And there are a lot of characters, which can be a little confusing at the beginning.
Our Favorite Line: “A little courtesy’s all I’m asking.” “I’m not thinking courteous thoughts right now.”
Other Items of Note: This is BBC America’s first foray into original dramas, and while it’s not yet up to the level of most of their imports, I’m curious to see where it and the other forthcoming original series go.
You Might Like This if you like historical dramas, or if you’re interested in seeing the early versions of the technology used to investigate on modern cop shows.
If You’re Interested: BBC America is rerunning the pilot, “Surviving Death,” several times over the next few weeks, so check your listings. New episodes start this coming Sunday at 10/9c.
(Photo courtesy of BBC America)