Starring: Jared Keeso, Adrian Holmes
19-2 is a police car that patrols the mean – well, actually quite nice and leafy – streets of Montreal. Patrolman Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes) has a reputation for having a bit of a ‘tude, and this only gets worse when his long-time partner is gunned down and he finds himself paired up with Ben Chartier, a cop who has transferred in from the sticks and has yet to find his legs in the big city.
This Canadian cop show (adapted from a French-language original by the same writing-producing team) starts out seeming like its going to be a gritty, hardboiled, high testosterone affair, especially when Chartier is asked by his slimy commander to spy on Barron and the antagonism between the two ratchets up. But after the first couple of episodes it finds it own identity, and it’s not what you’d expect. As first responders, the patrolmen (and women) of 19th precinct don’t see crimes through from beginning to end; instead, they bounce around the city dealing with anything from robberies and car accidents to domestic disputes and noise complaints. And the show reflects this fragmentary experience, breaking down into a series of melancholy-comic vignettes, with occasion chilling moments of jeopardy thrown in.
With crime (at least in the TV detective sense) taking a backseat, the show’s primary subject is the damage that the job does to the protagonists – alcoholism, broken marriages and domestic violence being some of the symptoms – and their feeling of helplessness in the face of human suffering. Much of this is filtered through Chartier, a laid-back but sensitive character played with a touching dignity and stoical, sturdy Sterling Hayden-ish presence by Jared Keeso. The series is also very good on the red tape that’s ready to engulf the patrol officers whenever they put a foot wrong, and there’s an excellent episode dealing with “welfare day” (the day when all the crackpots come out) which is worthy of Hill Street Blues at its best. A sensitive, thoughtful cop show of real emotional power. 8/10