Copper, the new, “gritty,” drama from the BBC premiered on BBC America last night. Reviews for the show are mostly good, though not spectacular. While reviewers generally enjoyed the themes, setting, and backstory in the premiere episodes, the characters and tropes used in the show were considered old hat.
Copper is the story of Detective Kevin Corcoran, an officer for the 1864 New York City Metropolitan Police. While investigating the murder of a child prostitute that reminds him of his own daughter, he and his partners move from the brothels and slums of Five Points to classy Uptown residences.
Robert Lloyd of LA Times had a fairly positive review for Copper, calling it “rather good.” He declared the straightforward morality of Copper to be “refreshing,” though he thought its depiction of Five Points looked a little too “clean.” IGN’s Matt Fowler couldn’t get into the show’s characters, but thought the show’s premiere “has some good seeds planted down.”
Most reviewers seems to be taking a wait-and-see approach, which is understandable for a slow-building drama. Though many TV series, such as Mad Men or Deadwood, can be judged by their first episode, some take time to settle in and propel characters on interesting trajectories.
One word of advice: if you are planning on watching Copper but haven’t seen Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, go ahead and avoid the movie. Set in the same time period as Copper, Gangs of New York is a masterpiece starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Certainly see it eventually, but I suspect more enjoyment will come from Copper if you avoid seeing the movie, which can’t help but overshadow the series.