Jonathan Storm: New cops on the beat

Aaron Douglas stars in the Canadian import on CBS, "The Bridge." It's stimulating fare that demands a viewer's attention.
Aaron Douglas stars in the Canadian import on CBS, "The Bridge." It's stimulating fare that demands a viewer's attention.

Two shows about lawmen premiere this weekend. One's good, light summer fun, the other a tough-minded treat from Canada.

Posted: July 10, 2010

Two more new summer series start this weekend. One's The Glades, premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. on A&E, another fun hot-weather show with a handsome, wisecracking lead, a cotton-candy cop who'd rather play golf than catch the criminals. It goes down like gin and tonic on a blistering afternoon. The other's a big surprise.

You'll have to pay attention to The Bridge, bowing Saturday with a two-hour premiere at 8 p.m. on CBS, a meaty drama in the same vein as The Shield, where some of the police are perps and there's no telling who's on the up-and-up.

It's another in a burgeoning line of Canadian cop shows making the journey south, much more stimulating than ABC's aw-shucks Rookie Blue or CBS's Flashpoint shoot-'em-up. Strange that shows from the Great White North are better suited to the simplicity of summer down here. Not The Bridge, though. It's for hard-core TV heads who enjoy the more challenging material of FX, AMC, and the premium cable channels.

Apparently, the Canadians like their TV tough as well. In March, The Bridge had the highest-rated premiere of any Canadian drama all season.

You know it comes from another country: It's pro-union, and the hero is a bulldog-looking guy named Frank Leo, who has to battle Internal Affairs and the brass so he and his fellow flatfeet don't get bullied. Self-serving politicos, quick to trump up police-brutality accusations to make points with bleeding-heart citizenry, also come into his sights.

It can be tough countering appearances when the cops pump 68 rounds into a pickup truck and its driver, who, you will discover - no spoilers here - makes for a very unlikely criminal.

Craig Bromell, a famous and controversial former Toronto police union president, is an executive producer, but Aaron Douglas (formerly head mechanic Galen Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica), who plays Leo, says he did the role asking himself, "What would Tony Soprano do if he were a cop?"

In Saturday's premiere, the worst organized-crime crew is made up of cops. But Douglas was trying to channel Soprano as a good guy.

There is one big problem with the show. It could have been a midseason replacement on CBS, but the network suffers from an embarrassment of riches, and The Bridge had nowhere to go. Now here it comes on summer Saturdays, not exactly prime viewing time. Additionally, the network is putting almost no promotion behind the show, and so far plans to air only seven of the 12 episodes that were shot, including the two that go back-to-back in tonight's premiere.

ABC is famous for chopping series off in midstream with little concern for viewers, but CBS has a better track record. Some people are going to get seriously hooked on this show, and it would be a travesty if the network snipped the series in August in the middle of its continuing story when there are exactly enough weeks to wrap it up before the fall season begins.

No need to worry about The Glades being drained before the end of its run, even though it would be much less of a hardship on viewers since, in normal TV tradition, each episode features one case. Sunday, it's the headless corpse in the creek.

A&E is backing the show to the hilt. Matt Passmore, the 7,206th handsome Aussie-with-a-grin-of-gold to make it to American TV, stifles his accent and annoys his cohorts with his know-it-all demeanor and lack of concern for the niceties, like wearing a uniform. This guy's so casual he sports a T-shirt and blue jeans on the golf course, frowned on even in Florida, where Detective Jim Longworth has wound up after fleeing Chicago with a little P.D. money after the department settled when his captain shot him in the fanny.

While not scoring pars and birdies, he tries to score with a medic played by Kiele Sanchez, in the familiar role of the hot, cute one, which she's done for the last 10 years and repeats here with aplomb. Her character has a 12-year-old son, who likes Longworth, especially when the kid gets to see a picture of the headless corpse.

"Cool," says he, as, most likely, will all sorts of viewers from 12 to 92 who are looking for a pleasant way to pass a late-evening hour at the end of a summer weekend.


Jonathan Storm:

The Bridge

Premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday on CBS3

The Glades

Premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday on A&E


Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or jstorm@phillynews.com. Read his recent blog at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/storm.

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