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Copper (BBC America) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review

Updated on September 13, 2012

On August 19th, BBC America’s first original series premiered. The show is set in the 1860s and is called ‘Copper’, referring to the occupation of the main character. The series takes place in New York City’s notorious Five Points neighborhood. The show is produced by Tom Fontana (‘Oz’), Will Rokos (‘Southland’) and Barry Levinson (‘Rain Man’). Starring are Tom Weston-Jones (‘MI-5’), Kyle Schmid (‘Being Human’) and Anastasia Griffith (‘Once Upon a Time’).

In this first episode Irish immigrant and police detective Kevin ‘Corky’ Corcoran (Weston-Jones) meets Annie, a little girl who’s all alone. Having come back from the Civil War only to find his wife disappeared and his daughter murdered, Corcoran feels for her and gives her an egg. After that she offers to ‘pleasure’ him, but he rejects her offer.

A moment later a nearby bank is robbed, but Corcoran and his colleagues were prepared. Within minutes all bank robbers are shot except for one child, who seems to work with the coppers as an informant. Annie was watching everything from a corner and now knows Corcoran is a copper.

Later that night Corcoran meets up with Eva Heissen (Franka Potente, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’), a love interest for Corcoran who happens to be a madam of a brothel. During this little get together his friend Robert Morehouse knocks on the door and announces they have found a body.

It turns out it’s Annie’s body, and Corcoran is determined to find out who did this to her. He brings Annie’s corpse to a friend of his, a black doctor called Dr. Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), whose surname is quite remarkable seeing that he lives during the period just after the Civil War. Freeman acts as Corcoran’s coroner, but since he is black, he can’t take official credit for this freelance job.

Dr. Freeman discovers the cause of death, she was hit by a stick of some kind, presumably a cane, with a distinct mark on it. Corcoran takes the body to another doctor to confirm Freeman’s theory. Before he gets there, he sees Annie alive and well on the street, but she quickly disappears. He manages to track her down, still carrying the dead girl’s body on his arm. He finds Annie and asks her who the dead girl is, but Annie panics and runs away.

The next day Corcoran finds Annie again and takes her to Eva to keep her safe. Annie explains that Contessa Popadou (Inga Cadranel, ‘The Bridge’) gave her a place to stay after her father died. Popadou is the madam of a brothel and forced Annie to sleep with men. Annie managed to escape when Contessa was distracted by Kate, Annie’s twin sister who is now dead. When Corcoran asks if there was a certain man who had particular interest in Annie, she cries but gives no name.

Corcoran knows he’s looking for a man with a distinct walking stick, and to find out who owns it, he brings a sketch of the cane to a man who makes walking sticks. This man recognizes the sketch immediately and tells Corcoran it’s Haverford’s, a high ranking copper.

Haverford sweeps the killing under the rug by making up a story about someone who used his walking stick, and this man is paid handsomely to confess to the murder. The man will be hanged but his wife will receive 5000 dollars. Corcoran doesn’t agree with this, but his hands are tied. However, he still seeks revenge for Kate’s death.

Being BBC America’s first original series after bringing many great British series to the other side of the pond, and bringing all these big names to the table, ‘Copper’ has the potential to be a great series. The very first case of the week wasn’t quite the shocker, but it did show how much the way policing work has changed in 150 years.

Overall, ‘Copper’ is watchable, especially if you’re into period dramas, but there is nothing great to it. The characters are quite cliche and predictable, and don’t really get to you in a way that you really want to know what happens next. The story is solid, but nothing special, and the sets look authentic, but not in an HBO-way.

What do you think of 'Copper'?

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    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 5 years ago

      Hi Rob,

      I've only seen the first episode so I don't know what happened after that. But the pilot episode didn't make me want to watch another one. I think the show does have potential, but it's just not something I want to wait for.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      I agree that "Copper" is decent entertainment but not great. It's got potential but it needs a lot of work. Most of the characters need more dimension and the plot needs to be more interesting than it has been so far.