Copper Orange is the New Ripper Black Street

The wife and I have been indulging in some adult television on the nights where we don’t watch our precocious grandchild. First let me cover the one that we only got two episodes into.

CopperCopper (2012) – TV-MA

Set in 1860s New York City, this gripping crime series centers on rugged Irish cop Kevin Corcoran, who works the notorious Five Points neighborhood — and who’s on a mission to learn the truth about his wife’s disappearance and his daughter’s death.”

When I first read about Copper, I thought, “Wow! A police show taking place in the same era and location as Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. That will be awesome.” The reality is…not so much. I intend that to have a double meaning as Copper’s major weakness is its unreality. In the 1860s, during the height of the horse and buggy, not to mention urban expansion, the streets of New York, including the notorious Five Points, are pristine.

Okay I immediately realize that this will be some idealized version of New York circa 1864. They immediately touch upon child prostitution but they treat it in an exploitative manner, as though it were mere window dressing. This extends to the Paris-trained African-American doctor who feels very out of place, especially as he is the only doctor they can rely on as all the other doctors are hacks.

The main character, Corcoran, engages in James Bondian derring do and  fisticuffs in the second episode WHILE sporting a freshly broken leg and taking drugs. This was the point at which, for us, there could be no suspension of disbelief. The ending of that episode, going against all common sense, was the finisher. Jenny and I found that episode both laughable and groanable and gave up on Copper, which is a shame because the lead actor is quite likable in his role – too bad it was so poorly written.

Orange is the New BlackOrange is the New Black (2013) – TV-MA

From the creator of “Weeds” comes a heartbreaking and hilarious new series set in a women’s prison. Piper Chapman’s wild past comes back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper trades her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.”

Another of Netflix’ productions, Orange is the New Black lacks the familiarity of Arrested Development or the dizzying chutzpah of House of Cards (with a bravura performance by Kevin Spacey). What it does have is a wonderful authentic feel, quirky but real characters, and an uncomfortable sense of humor. We’re thoroughly enjoying this and are about halfway through.

Ripper StreetRipper Street (2013) – Rated TV-MA

In April 1889 — six months after the last Jack the Ripper killing — East London is emerging into a fragile peace, hopeful that the murderer’s reign of terror might have finally run its course.

We tried Ripper Street after bailing on Copper. We were afraid that it was going to end up being about Jack the Ripper but were thankfully surprised when it wasn’t, although the Ripper’s presence and legacy can be felt throughout the season.

Ripper Street does suffer from some of the unreality that plagues Copper. The English police are well written but the American is a doctor, forensics wizard, crack shot, thief, gambler, rake, and former Pinkerton agent – did they just fold several characters into one to save money on casting?

Other than the American and an unfortunate tendency to try and show us the first case of x (no spoilers but there are several different x’s), Ripper Street is entertaining and engaging.

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