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Brooklyn South is probably one of the best TV shows ever produced. Unfortunately, the series did not do well enough in the US, and was cancelled after only 1 season. That is a shame, regarding it`s realism, life and death drama and gripping storytelling. Really gives a good insight into the lives of some of "New York`s finest"
I am a Cop, a Big City Cop. At least I was one for nearly 35 years,
which was just about all of my adult life. So, just because life
doesn't require sitting through at Roll Calls, patrolling the streets,
nor attendance in various Court Rooms, from Traffic Court to Felony
Courts and the Grand Jury; the identity is still the same, a Cop.
And, being that the Statute of Limitations have now run their course, the time is ripe. They say that Confession is good for the Soul, so it must be that time. It's high time to get all of this off my chest. So please, bear with me. Thank you.
I like Cop Shows, good Cop Shows, that is. Certain Series such as : "ADAM 12", "POLICE STORY", "HILL STREET BLUES" and the perennial NBC Favourite, "LAW & ORDER" and its family, these are programs that combine a certain level of realism, blended in with high entertainment value.
Sometimes, the public forgets that Policemen are just like any other grown-up boys, only more so. Cops like their toys and they like their fantasies. When DIRTY HARRY with Clint Eastwood hit the Screens in 1971, it was all Clint Eastwood for America's Cops. So we saw Dirty Harry type haircuts, Harry like sport jackets and the like. And there wasn't a Smith & Wesson, Model 29, .44 Magnum Calibre Pistol left for sale in any gun shops in these United States.
So a little make believe can go along way, for anyone, even the Police.
In "BROOKLYN SOUTH" we have a Stephen Bochco Production that has quite a Family Tree. It's a cousin of "NYPD BLUE" and is also distantly related to that most prolific progenitor, the Abraham of Cop Shows, "HILL STREET BLUES".
Like all the previous efforts from Mr. Bochco, quality reigned supreme. The writing, the cinematography, costuming, color work and cast were all tops. A fine group of actors, both veteran and youthful, formed a sort of repertory company of NY City Police. Among those featured, my own favourites were: "HILL STREET" veteran, James B. Sikking as Captain Jones, Michael DeLuise as Officer Phil Roussakoff and the very underrated and unappreciated Gary Basaraba as Desk Sgt.Richard Santoro, who got promoted to Lieutenant during the short, 22 episode run of "BROOKLYN SOUTH".* Mr. Bochco and Company were attempting to do what is most difficult, and that is namely, to do a successful series not about the 'Big Heat' Detectives; but rather one dealing with the 'grunts', the infantryman of the Police Department, the Uniformed Patrolmen.
NOTE: * We see that the entire series is available on DVD. Quick, someone tell my family! Christmas is just a little more than 2 weeks away.
I took a chance and bought this series on DVD tho I never saw it when it aired in 97'; Wow! was I pleasantly surprised. I was so bummed during the last episode cause I wanted it to keep going for more than just one season. It has the same tone and feel as NYPD Blue but I have to say I liked the cops in this show a whole lot more. The beat cop--"blue collar" feel was just much more interesting to me than the constant "heavy drama" of NYPD which is a fine show. You watch this series and you wonder how with all the schlock on TV it didn't make it. The characters are human, flawed, honorable, and compelling. It's 16 hours of great entertainment and you can pick it up fairly cheap on line.
"Brooklyn South", from the minds who brought us "NYPD Blue", is a one-season-wonder TV drama series about the street cops at the 74th precinct in Brooklyn, NY. Where sibling series "NYPD Blue" focused on the detectives, "Brooklyn South" takes us into the lives of uniformed patrol cops spreading its complex, fast moving stories over about ten no nonsense characters weaving its plot lines into short, mid, and long term story threads while spending most of the 45 minute episode time on cops and cop issues with action, "perps", and other characters used only as necessary. Series' stories are a pleasing mix of humor and drama, pathos and poignancy, gritty reality and entertaining contrivances which show the Brooklyn cops to be as vulnerable and human as they are tough and determined. Worth a look by cop show junkies or anyone who enjoyed "NYPD Blue", this entertaining DVD watch will take a little time to "get into" because of the number of characters and the intricacies of the stories. (B+)
I can still remember seeing BROOKLYN SOUTH during its only season
It's really too bad that it didn't last any longer. The series struggled
in the ratings, but it still had a chance to become a hit. If CBS had the
courage to renew the series for a second season, it might have become
What sticks in my mind is the pilot, in part because it apparently made BROOKLYN SOUTH the first non-cable series to get the TV-MA rating (meaning Mature Audiences). But other than that, the rest of the episodes were rated TV-14 (indicating that it may not be suitable for viewers under the age of 14). The reason for the pilot's TV-MA ratings was because of the grisly shoot-out scene at the beginning, which involved a cop getting shot in the head by a sniper.
The premature demise of the series was a big disappointment. I would have liked to see BROOKLYN SOUTH last five years or more. In fact, it could have been the HILL STREET BLUES of the new millennium.
The fact that this series ran only one season is a travesty. It's true it was competing with football etc...however, Steven Boccho and David Milch actually focused on the street officer in uniform. A tremendous cast of Gary Basaraba who made the show go..but outstanding performances by actors like James Sitking ( Hill Street Blues, Dylan Walsh, Michael Deluise (from NYPD Blue )Titus Welliver,Jon Tenny and Richard Jones. Klea Scott and Yancy Butler portrayed women police officers who interacted very well with their counterparts week after week and did their jobs very well. The series targeted the very essence of police work and that is, working the streets. It focused on the officer's duty,their personal lives, traumas and stress as they put their lives on the line every time they walked out the door of the 74th precinct. It is true there has been police series on TV, dating back to Dragnet (featuring detectives) Adam 12 ( almost robotic in nature ), William Shatner as TJ Hooker in 1982. Even Hill Street Blues featured the street officer in uniform, but was almost comedic when you consider the reflection of this mythical police department, where the officers didn't conform to the departmental regulation of the uniform..officers were allowed to wear corporate baseball caps, cowboy boots etc..with no fear of reprisal. James Sitking played a mercenary predator who was the commander of the SWAT team who wanted to utilize his latest weapons no matter what circumstances demanded. This is not to mention Renko (a loose cannon ) who in most departments would have been sent to see the department psycologist. But, none the less, it was a great show which lasted for years. The weekly scripts were outstanding addressing the controversial issues of the day while still reflecting the professionalism of the Police Officer in a positive way. This series may be history now, but it is available on DVD. I highly recommend it. Given what the choices are today, 10 years later..it should be welcomed back..regardless of critic opinion and "ratings". We lost a good series here.
If you haven't seen Brooklyn South, get the DVD boxed set. I thought this was an enormously entertaining series and I was very sad when it wasn't renewed. I agree with another poster who complained about some of the characters, but has there ever been a show that had all perfect characters? Brooklyn South had some bad characters, some bad actors, and some bad episodes - I say "some". But not all. I would even say very few overall. This series had some poor characters portrayed by good actors, some good characters portrayed by poor actors, and some good characters played by good actors. I submit that one sure sign of a good actor is if he or she manages to get their audience to dislike their character. Not dislike the actor, but dislike the character that they portray - especially if you like the actor. Tim Roth in the movie "Rob Roy" would be an example: I think he is a fine actor and I like him very much, but I absolutely DETESTED him (as his character) in Rob Roy. Gary Basaraba was tremendous in his role as Sgt. Santoro. It was a good character portrayed by a great actor. The on screen relationship between Clemmy and Jack was an edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger from week to week. You got the sense that under all the conflict they really liked and respected each other as people. It's just too bad that this series was not renewed after the first (and only) season. There was a lot of unrealized potential left on the table in Brooklyn South, and it was one of the few - very few - programs that I faithfully tuned into week to week. You were great while you lasted, Brooklyn South. I miss you!
A Steven Boncho production that lasted only one season. Partly because
of airing opposite of the target audience's Monday Night Football,
partly because of not one of the characters connecting to the little
audience this show managed to keep after maybe a handful of episodes. I
watched perhaps 4 episodes before I gave up on it during it's network
TV run. Later, when it was released on DVD, I decided to give it
another chance primarily on the strength of the superb first episode
alone. Again I found that as the episodes wore on, my interest began to
wane again. This show may be realistic, it may be well acted, but it
doesn't have the spark that either "Hill Street Blues", "NYPD Blue", or
to a less extant "S.W.A.T" did. The show committed the sin of not
having anyone in the cast that stands out and is relatable for me. It
just seemed a retread of story lines from other better productions.
My overall grade: C
Complete Series DVD Extras: Commentary by Co-creator David Milch on the Pilot; a 14 minute interview with Steven Boncho; Cast & Crew bios; and a list of police response codes
Brooklyn South was an innovative and Gritty show when it hit the air.
Focusing on street cops in uniform over detectives, and making a
thorough commitment to realism, it was unlike most anything else on TV.
The writing and acting was top notch, and the show is able to serve up
verbal confrontations just as vicious as the physical ones.
Still, it hasn't aged well. Given the time period and the fact that it aired on CBS, Brooklyn South is relatively tame by today's standards. This isn't necessarily bad, such as in most classic Victorian literature, where the author invents a way to refer to sex and violence much more entertaining than a straight description. The problem is that Brooklyn South presents itself as gritty and revealing, (which it was for the time) and the actual content of the show ends up being a let down, rather than a delicious metaphor. Many of the issues that Brooklyn South is obviously trying to tackle, such as abuse of power, the slippery slope of committing evil deeds in the name of good, and what constitutes morality when your paid to use violence, it can only hint at. Thus the watcher is slowly drawn into these issues, only to be let down when the show switches subjects just before truly exposing them.
Given this I'd recommend Brooklyn South to hardcore fans of the crime genre, because even after aging it's still entertaining, and for it's historical importance as one of the first cop shows to focus on realism and morally ambiguous characters. Beyond that it's safe to say that HBO's The Wire is everything Brooklyn South wanted to be, and better done to boot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was a Brooklyn South superfan back in the day (one reason...I was
about to move to Brooklyn) and I own the DVD set now. With some
perspective, I think the first episodes were the best, filmed on
location, not in L.A., as they did later, and dealing with real
situations street cops might meet. Ratings were not bad, but after
Bochco's earlier hits (btw, he went to high school with me), CBS
expected much and probably paid top dollar.
When the show didn't go off the charts immediately, pressure from the network must have been intense, and the writers went off into spasms of incredulity, anything to try to get an audience. Suddenly these ordinary beat cops were uncovering all manner of big league crimes on a weekly basis, this week an international terrorist plot, that week a nest of bombers. The show became so unbelievable even I got turned off to it. They also added more and more characters, calling on beauty queens (Elana Elaniak) and popular actors from NYPD Blue. More characters is one thing it didn't need.
Still, the acting was great and most of the cast have gone on to bigger things. Dylan Walsh on Nip n Tuck, Adam Rodriguez to CSI: Miami, etc. I just saw Gary Basaraba on the HBO Special "Recount".
If they'd stuck to realistic plots, dealing with believable human drama (COPS finds plenty of it on the beat.), and CBS had given it a chance, we'd be watching Brooklyn South today. Instead, Bochco is still searching for the next big police thing. Hey, Steve, how about a show on cops on the beat...
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