If you’re in the pursuit of a good television series to watch this summer, and you have Netflix, I have a recommendation for you: Barry Levinson’s “Copper.”
Creator Tom Fontana (Homicide: Life on the Streets) brings to the BBC a fictional American history lesson in “Copper.” The civil war time period piece examines life in the Five Points neighborhood of New York: the same time and place illustrated by Martin Scorcese in the “Gangs of New York.
The main players in the series are the members of the 6th district police department, who try to keep law and order amongst the chaos of a big city with a war going on. Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) is an Irish American civil war veteran turned detective, who has a Dirty Harry complex ─ he will get things done no matter the method. Corcoran and his crew deal daily with murder, robberies, pillaging, rape…but that is the least of their problems. The ward boss of the district Brendon Donovan (Donal Logue) is a nefarious wheeler-dealer who has a greed complex, and his grand plan is to level the mostly Irish immigrant neighborhood to build an aqueduct. (Donovan does not show up until season 2.)
The side stories revolve around the slave issue. Donovan’s go to CSI man is Doctor Mattew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), an educated black man who is trying to change the world, but is finding rampant bigotry abounding; Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) is a wealthy entrepreneur, and legless ex-vet, who begins to ally himself with Corcoran; Eva Heissen (Franka Potente) is the German saloon/brothel owner whose drinking establishment is valued in more ways than one. The list of characters goes on and on, but I think you get the idea: Five Points is a rough place.
I found the series very engaging, but I highly recommend using the subtitles in order to decipher some of the heavier Irish brogues. Note of caution here: This is some of the most violent television that I have ever watched. Five Points historically was a Wild West in the city ─ so be prepared. Watch it. (23 episodes – filmed in Toronto.)
It is interesting to note that five corners is called so because of the intersection of three streets which form five corners.
My Rating: 4 of 5 St. Patrick Days.