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TV Review: Flashpoint – A Different Kind Of Cop Show, Eh?

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Life these days is stressful. It costs over a hundred dollars to fill the belly of that behemoth SUV, and that’s only going to let you run everyday errands for a week or so. That's if you consolidate lunches, meetings, shopping, grooming trips and just getting to work.

Once you do get to work, you have to deal with office politics, and the gossip of who’s stabbing who to climb another flimsy rail up the corporate hierarchy. And to top it off, you have to worry if your cherished salsa and chips are going to end you up in the hospital with a case of salmonella. As if that weren’t enough, a retired senator/economist from Texas has the audacity to tell us, in perfect “I’m alright, Jack” style, we’re a nation of whiners.

We’re not whiners by any means — we’re stress junkies. We thrive on it, and when real life doesn’t feed us with enough tension, we’ll get a vicarious fix through the TV. Seeing those hopeless souls on game shows and reality series give us a momentary sense of smug superiority, just knowing we would have chosen the obvious “T” and not the what-kind-of-idiot-are-you “L.” In the comfort of our living rooms, we lord over all we survey, and pity the poor souls dripping in flop sweat on the screen.

Flashpoint (premiering on CBS Friday, 11 July, 10P EST, and on CTV — check your local listings) is all about stress, at least in the pilot episode. It begins in the height of the conflict in unnamed Toronto, as we see a really, really stressed out Croatian holding a gun to a woman’s head while a negotiator (Enrico Colantoni) tries to talk him down, despite language barriers.

Meanwhile, a police sniper is perched on a rooftop, coldly awaiting orders to neutralize the perp. It’s a brief moment that establishes the tone of the show. It cuts to a few hours earlier, when the day was just another day. The police sniper (Hugh Dillon) is a family guy, thinking he’s planning for a colleague’s retirement party, despite conflicts with his wife’s parents' fortieth wedding anniversary. The Croatian hostage taker began the day thinking he’ll reconcile with his estranged wife, despite a restraining order to the contrary.

It’s in the backstories that Flashpoint differs from the usual procedural cop show. It’s not the slam-bang, take no prisoners action adventure to which American audiences are accustomed. There’s plenty of tension and stress in the pilot episode, but it’s tempered with an underlying sense of emotion. It achieves something very rare in American television — it causes you to empathize with all the characters, rather than just dropping bodies to and fro.

As it stands now, Flashpoint is slated for a thirteen episode run. On CBS. But if the pilot is any indication, this is a series that should be picked up for the fall season. It’s a well-crafted show, full of irony mixed with action, served up in a balanced blend that’s more cinematic than episodic. It would be a shame to lose a show that shows us how our day to day lives really aren’t that stressful, relatively speaking.

About Ray Ellis

  • http://www.valentineonfilm.com Brandon

    Great article Ray. Flashpoint was surprisingly good entertainment. Let’s hope the next 12+ episodes match/exceed the caliber of the series opener. Switching to a different night might help the viewership as well.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Thanks, Brandon. As it turns out. CBS and CTV will be rebroadcasting the premiere episode this Sunday at 10P EST.

  • Didi

    Does anyone know the name of the song and the singer at the very end of this first episode – it is haunting and really underpinned the theme.

  • http://www.charlottesplace.org charlotte

    September episode*lyrics to song (Tom Waits kind of sound)
    Lost it all, I’ve been lost at sea
    Off the coast of Eternity
    Seems to me I’ve been gone
    A long time
    Trouble is, trouble was…
    If this is a Canadian song writer or lyricist, how do I find out who it is

  • eumel

    i’d love to know the song, same as charlotte!
    any hints for flashpoint s1e08 song at the end?

  • eumel

    ok, found it! its hugh dillon
    he plays no.1 ed in the show! love his voice!

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    I think you mean “Fortress” by Dala.

  • Nikki

    Great article!

    I think this show is pretty much awesome!

    I wish they had kept the 13 episodes in stead of doing just 9…

    Hope that continue to air it on CBS!!

  • john

    Is the song called fortress

  • Binzee

    I don’t think anyone has hit the nail on the head with the song from charlottes comment. All over the net i have found people looking for that “fortress” song but thats not the one that I’m after. “Fortress” was episode 1. Any help would be much appreciated as it was an awesome acoustic song.

  • Kristap

    Hi, does anyone know the titles of songs in The Fortress [2nd season] and the In the heartbeat end song [1st season end]? Please if you know put the titles here! =)

  • Kristap

    Sorry for double post, but i found it and will post them here! Maybe someone else will be looking.

    In a heartbeat – Matthew Good – Weapon
    Business As Usual – Wintersleep – Search Party

    but i still don’t know the song in end of The Fortress. =(

  • bk

    what is the name of the song at the end of the episode on march 13?? some of the words are:
    days like this, think about the one who love you,wake each day and see your face…does anyone know who this is by and the title?
    great show luv it!!

  • David

    At the end of the March 13th episode they played a sond sung by a female, Day’s Like These or maybe, On Days Like These. Would anyone know if that’s the correct title and who the artist singing is? Thanks

  • Magliore

    It’s “Days like this” by Kim Taylor

  • Rachel

    Hugh Dillon – Lost at Sea