Flashpoint: Season 1
One of the earliest types of television series to gain mass appeal was the police drama. It inherently contained all the elements necessary to attract and keep an audience. There was a well defined demarcation between the heroes and villains; when you are trying to relax after a hard day at work you really don’t want to cope with moral ambiguity. Then there is the chance to infuse plenty of action into the proceedings giving the show a touch of the thrills and excitement of a big budget action flick albeit on a smaller scale. Next is perhaps the most important for American viewers; guns, plenty of guns. It should come as no surprise that people in the States just love shooting guns or at least watching them being shot. In 1975 a different variation of the police series premiered: S.W.A.T. which stood for Special Weapons and Tactics. It was a departure from the usual format of the police shoe mostly because there was typically no element of mystery as to who committed there crime of the week. By the time this elite squad was called in the situation has pretty much escalated beyond the scope that the regular police can handle. This series quickly became a cult classic and was favored largely for the camp, almost tongue in cheek presentation. It had the type of action typical for that time; a lot of bullets but few actual kills. When the show was made into a theatrical movie some years later the same basic approach was employed. It would take a television series produced by our neighbors to the north to create a show about this type of unit set against a more realistic background; ‘Flashpoint’. Admittedly prior to receiving the review copy of the first season DVD set I was unaware that this series existed. Once I started watching I quickly got into the show. Admittedly it is not the greatest series around it is better than most and a strong, entertaining contender.
For a number of years now many of the most popular series here in the States have been produced in Canada. Usually this is prompted by the economic incentives the country wisely offers the entertainment industry. Although Canadian in the credits most of the series are still constructed along the precepts of the audiences here. One thing that is immediately evident is ‘Flashpoint’is crafted more in line with Canadian sensibilities and tastes. While the variation in the seventies was filled with campy violence this series may come off as too slowly pace for the majority of viewers here. Personally I found it refreshing to see a story given ample time to develop instead of just letting a flimsy plot fill in the time between car chases and shoot outs. The members of the SRU - Strategic Response Unit would rather talk and negotiate with whatever person is threatening the public safety than open fire and just blast the perpetrator away. Somehow I have the feeling that this better represents the officers involved in such elite unites. Typically each episode begins a few hours earlier in the day to show the origin of the situation that will soon spiral out of control, then the team rushes into action, one person is delegated to a computer screen processing information and coordinating the teams on the scene. Like most teams of this sort the makeup and strategy is military in nature which translates to a lot of combat gear and nasty looking weapons. Part of the initial intervention for SRU comes through the expertise of Greg Parker (Enrico Colantoni), the primary team negotiator.
The leader of the ESU is Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon) who is also the primary sniper of the group. He goes through a great deal of inner conflict each time he has to pull the trigger ending somebody’s life. That action is always the absolute last resort. His devotion to the unit and the required long hours has adversely affected his personal life leaving him divorced and estranged from his son.
The only female on the team and one of the few women to qualify as a sniper is Julianna "Jules" Callaghan (Amy Jo Johnson). She is fully accepted as ‘one of the guys but was deterred from pursuing a relationship with a team member. In order to cover all possible responses Lewis "Lew" Young (Mark Taylor) is the unit’s expert in less drastic and lethal weapons. Usually tied in via phone is Doctor Amanda Luria (Ruth Marshall). It is up to her to provide a quick yet accurate psychological profile of the offender and advise the team as to the best possible course of action. Together the team assesses the situation and devises a solution that hopefully will restore the peace and avoid any loss of life.
The series uses the same classification of crimes that such a unit would address; hostages, bomb threats, potential terrorism and such but unlike most television series of this genre the emphasis here is one the least drastic means of resolution possible. This is not a series if you want a lot of mindless action but if you want to get into a show that endeavors to provide a different vantage point into elite law enforcement then give one a try.