Amazon Prime TV review: Copper Season 1, Episode 1
Ivan Radford | On 13, Sep 2013Reading time: 2 mins
Meet Copper. He’s a maverick. A wild card. A guy not afraid to break the rules. He has messy hair. He wears a hat – but damn it, he always gets results. Sound familiar? Good. Because while BBC America’s TV series may be breaking ground by premiering Season 1 on Amazon Prime all in one go, this is nothing new: even in 1864, there are cliches to spout and, by heck, there are rules to break. Those dirty, rotten, barely-formed 19th Century rules.
“Don’t get too smart, boyo!” one of the local bobbies warns Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) at the start of Episode One, Surviving Death. That seems to be the motto of writers Will Rokos, Tom Fontana, who patrol the grimy New York streets will all the beats you can think of. Tragic backstories, corrupt officials, women in need of redemption – the whole darned rap sheet. There’s even an old-fashioned CSI type, Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), who can solve a murder with little more than a sketchpad and pencil.
Sure enough, the body of a young a girl turns up and Kevin gets curious, especially because her twin sister’s gone missing too. “Finding her won’t bring your daughter back,” warns one of his crew. “Shurrup,” cautions another. You can forgive the exposition-heavy crimes in the first episode of a show, as long as it’s willing to turn over a new leaf.
The signs, though, are promising. Director Jeff Woolnough, who’s done time on Battlestar Galactica and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, stops Five Points from looking too much like a low-budget BBC set and doesn’t shy away from tittilating sex scenes and gory violence. Things start boldly with a bank heist and shootout that sprays blood all over the place, followed quickly by a visit to the local brothel – and a heart-to-heart about Corky’s dead wife and his struggle to move on from the Civil War.
“Since I came back to an empty home two months ago, I ain’t sure of anything,” he laments. Wearing his character dilemmas on his Irish sleeve. Tom Weston-Jones makes Corky a cocky, likeable lead, with his hair and his hat – a contrast to the sleazy rich folks around him, including the guy whose life he saved on the battlefield. There are no points for guessing where this case ends up, but the ambiguous morals and period politics have the potential to develop into an interesting premise, one that’s comfortably close enough to detective show stereotypes, but with more brass knuckles and beards. CSI: 1864? Go on then. Copper is far from a maverick show but damn it, it gets results.
Copper is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.