Sunday, September 9, 2012
Turns out the two competing police forces in Manhattan had joined forces and the unformed ones we mostly associate with the period were from one force and the un-uniformed detectives were from the other. The hero is a Civil War veteran, as well as an ex boxing champ, who saved the life of a wealthy Manhattanite whose father then got our man appointed as a detective. Our hero can often be sensitive and caring but at times his heroics can also be casually brutal and insensitive.
The period and the way its handled is a little reminiscent of Scorcese's GANGS OF NEW YORK but not as colorful. For budgetary and other reasons the sets are dark and cramped and mostly shot in what reads as sepia, like a photograph from those times, rather than the reality which Scorcese captured of the flamboyantly colored clothing and styles then.
The early episodes begin right after the days when GANGS OF NEW YORK ends, that is after the "draft riots" that paralyzed Manhattan and left many dead, including black New Yorkers who shared the poorest sections of New York with the immigrant Irish but ended being strung up by many of those same Irish when The Civil War dragged on and they kept being forcibly inducted into the army to fight.
One of the leads in the show is a free black doctor with forensic skills that our hero met in the war and relies on to help solve cases but has to pretend it's his own detective skills because using the knowledge of a black man would put both of them and their jobs in jeopardy. There is a bit too much sensationalism at times, but the hardness of the characters it comes from seems historically viable, and I so love the history of this period in New York that I'm able to overlook the sometimes seemingly contrived aspects of the plot because the details ring so true to my knowledge.
There's some fine acting as well, and from actors I don't know for the most part. I'll let you discover them for yourself, if you're interested. I know I am. I'm definitely hooked.