Copper, a new original series on BBC America, first aired on August 19, 2012. Tom Weston-Jones plays Detective Kevin Corcoran, one of New York’s Finest, making Five Points better one case at a time in 1864. Cocoran returns from volunteering in the Civil War to find that his daughter has been murdered and his wife disappeared. Every morning Cocoran searches the bowels of NYC for a locket, and “[i]f you should come across a distinctive gold locket, engraved with the letters E and C on its face, it might have pictures of a man and little girl on the inside,” then you are to immediate contact the detective. He hopes to trace the disappearance of the locket from the neck of his dead daughter back to the perpetrator of the criminal who stole his little girl and his wife from him.
I’ve watched the first three episodes, and I am hooked. In the first episode Corcoran tries to help a young prostitute after she prepositions him and a day later he finds her dead body. With the recent loss of his own daughter, this case hits close to home and the detective is intent on making the guilty party pay. Even if the guilty party is a wealthy gentleman who has the city’s chief detective in his pocket. Then Corcoran discovers that the young prostitute (seriously, she’s 10) is in fact alive, and it is her sister, that is really dead. Now Corcoran must keep the young girl alive as the wealthy gentleman hunts her down, while trying to discover what really happened to his own little girl. So begins the tale of Detective Corcoran.
I really enjoy Tom Weston-Jones’ performance as Detective Corcoran. The story is dirty and gritty and more than a little disturbing, with the detective lurking the grey areas of life in a city full of corruption. This show does not shy away from the gritty or grabby (i.e. sex scenes) as Corcoran and his boys visit brothels, shoot before asking questions, steal from would be bank thieves, and mete out justice in a system that lets the rich get away with anything. Corcoran’s mistress at the local brothel has a part to play in this drama, which has only just begun to be explored. I do love her tattoos and her cunning intelligence. Corcoran is also being pursued by a lady of genteel stature if not the most genteel mindset, played by Anastasia Griffith (Once Upon a Time). I’m not sure what I think of this love triangle especially considering his wife may still be alive (what is that exactly?). But I’m willing to watch and see what happens. The most disturbing portion of this television show is 10 year old Annie Reilly, played by Kaira Glasco, who has had a hard enough life for sure, but her propensity for offering sexual favors in search of safety and care is a little icky (I’m not going to lie). But the Detective, however much he lives in the grey areas in the rest of his life, is perfectly clear on one point. Annie is safe under his care and she doesn’t need to offer herself to anyone ever again.
One really interesting issue that the show lays out before the audience without really any driving force toward a resolution or answer is that of the status of black people in America at that time. For example, Corcoran seeks the help of a black medical examiner on the sly because if it where known where he received his scientific information, the results would be discounted. The use of the N- word is also interesting if uncomfortable. This show does not shy away from the dirty reality of life in the 1800’s and seems to ask the question of how far have we really come from hatred of other people we don’t understand who don’t look like we do. Because, even after the Civil War, lynchings still occur and one black woman is so afraid of being harmed, and legitimately so, that she becomes a shut in. Copper has taken the bulls by the horn in this drama, and I’m excited to see where they take it.