Monday, August 30, 2010

First New Series Of The TV Season

The first new series of the 2010-11 TV season revs up Wednesday night at 10 on Global TV.
And --surprise --it's a Canadian police drama and it's a hit.
Me, too. But after watching the preview of the first episode of Shattered I should have been expecting quality all along.
The executive producer is Jeff F. King who I first met (as producer) on Night Heat and later on ENG and Due South, all home grown series of distinction.
Then there's the star Callum Keith Rennie.
I first noticed him as a 35-year-old newcomer in the odd little Canadian feature Curtis's Charm (1995) and later he won a supporting Gemini award in the 1995 series My Life As A Dog.
But peversley he refused to leave his hotel room to go downstairs and collect his award --because he was in competition with Lamb Chops and Sheri Lewis.
And I thought he was unforgettable in the 1996 TV movie For Those Who Hunt The Wounded Down --he begged to differ in an hour long TV conversation I could not get him to bend.
Since then he's excelled in Canadian projects (Due South, Twitch City) as well as U.S. series (Californication, 24).
Now 50 he's grey haired and his face heavily lined. But the intensity is still there.
I consider his latest, Shattered, as aging detective Ben Sullivan whose life is spiraling out of control to be among his best work.
Yes, this is another Canadian cop series. But it's not a generic entity like Rookie Blue.
Here it's the back story that has the bite --Ben and partner Ellas (Molly Parker of Deadwood) had an eight-year old son who was abducted several years ago --his fate remains unknown.
Ben's compulsive disorder syndrome is now out of control. In the opening episode he yells at his new detective partner to shoot a pedophile suspect and she does although it turns out the man was not armed.
Looking on is the next police detective team headed by Det. Terry Rhodes (Martin Cummins of Dice) who has been married three times and has four children and Det. John Holland (Cle Bennett.
Stories focus on how the detectives bend the system to apprehend their suspects and what this ongoing tension does to their personalities.
You could call this an example of "cop noir" --King has worked in that genre before with the series EZ Streets.
In the opener Kari Skogland who directed Rennie in the 1997 feature Men with Guns shoots this one like a movie --bursts of terrifying violence, angry scenes of confrontation, cops going to the edge mentally --this is something not normally seen in TV police shows.
Partnered with Rennie on the force is younger Amy Lynch (Camille Sullivan, so powerful in the CBC series Intelligence). And Molly Parker as his long suffering partner at home is intense in a quiet, lingering way.
Shattered is so tough and different it seems like a cable show rather than a mainstream network offering.
But Global TV is giving it a big push prior to the official opening of the U.A. TV season.
Watching Shattered will leave viewers shattered.
MY RATING: ***1/2.


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