DVD Review– 19-2– Seasons 1, 2, and 3
An English-language remake of a French-language Canadian cop show, 19-2 focuses on the lives of a team of first responders. These are not detectives: their job is to be the first at the scenes of crimes and to take care of assorted tasks. They’re not supposed to be solving murders or investigating disappearances, though some of them do choose to do so on their own time, without the approval of their superiors.
The first three seasons have all been released in three separate DVD sets. The series’ name comes from the fact that the two lead characters work for Station 19, and their police car is Number 2, hence 19-2. Set in Montreal, as the series opens, Ben Chartier (Jared Keeso) is just moving to the city, having previously worked in a small-town setting. He is partnered with Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes), an officer with a reputation for flouting rules and who might potentially be dirty.
The show is always good, though it is not always original. Anybody familiar with cop shows will have seen many of the situations and plotlines before, ranging from the clean-cut rookie dealing with the possibly shady veteran, the false complaints, the dramatic rescues, the love-life troubles, dealing with community distrust, and a host of other staple narratives of the genre. Fans of the superb Southland and the superlative Hill Street Blues will recognize several tropes, characterizations, and even daring rescues replicated surprisingly closely on 19-2.
The cast are all competent in their roles, though in the show’s effort to stress that no character is perfect, at times it seems as if all of them are “typed’ by their unique personal flaws. There are the Alcoholic, the Hothead, the Domestic Abuser, the Sleazy Career Climber, and the I-Can’t-Stop-Making-Bad-Choices characters.
Perhaps 19-2’s finest and most nerve-wracking moment comes at the start of the second season, when the squad battles a school shooter. Each season has overarching storylines, some more interesting than others. The hunt for a mole in the squad and the murder of an officer’s relative are particularly good ones.
There’s a lot to like and a fair amount to criticize with 19-2. For example, the series does a particularly good job dealing with a deep tragedy and a betrayal leading to the Season 3 ending cliffhanger. However, the characters often display an annoying lack of self-awareness and a refusal to confront their own flaws. A particularly galling example is when the police criticize a priest for not breaking the seal of the confessional while keeping secrets themselves that get people killed or cover up crimes.
The show’s most surprising storytelling tactic is occasionally showing a character’s thoughts rather than actual actions. When a character is accused of excessive force, we saw that he was justified, and we get angry at the unjust accusation. Later, we start to wonder if what we saw was only his mistaken memory. In other cases, we see acts of violence that turn out to be only fantasies. This can be a bit off-putting because once I got used to this tactic, I often watched a scene and then waited for a while to figure out if it was real or just a dream.
Fans of character-driven police dramas will enjoy the show, which promises to go into intriguing directions in the yet-to-be released Season 4.
Viewer warning: Many scenes of violence and sexuality. Some language.
19-2– Season 1
19-2– Season 2
19-2– Season 3
DVD $39.99 (Season 1), $49.99 (Seasons 2 & 3)