Flashpoint: Season 5
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Flashpoint: Season 5

Currently, some of the best television shown here in the States is being imported from our neighbors to the north, Canada. Actual, this trend has been ongoing spanning a number of years. They are basically constructed along the lines of traditional television program we grew up watching but the discerning viewer might notice some subtle differences resulting from the inherent cultural differences between the two counties. One show that serves as a perfect example of this is ‘Flashpoint’ a familiar police procedural imbued with a definitive Canadian fair. Since undoubtedly the question is on many minds; yes, the police seem up there appear to have a greater propensity towards being polite. The rough around the edge cop willing to break the rules, as well as several bones on the perpetrator, are not going to be represented in this particular series.

I first came across ‘Flashpoint’ when its first season DVD arrived with a group of material to revue. I had been familiar with a few of the cast members, albeit in the context of very different roles. Still, it intrigued me and the series was not available on my cable line up show I began to watch. I was hooked from the very start. The premise is one we have seen locally so it would be possible to make some valid comparisons. ‘Flashpoint’ explored the cases handled by the SRU, the Strategic Response Unit, based in a city in Canada highly reminiscent of Toronto. This is in many ways equivalent to elite, specialized police squads here exemplified by S.W.A.T. The first and most notable can be found in the name. We have special weapons and tactics, a paramilitary unit with an emphasis on resolving situations aggressively. They have a strategic response unit, the name invoking a squad prone to a greater emphasis on containment than violence. Of course like any sweeping generalizations especially ones applied to the premise of television series there is a considerable degree of dramatic license employed. The classic S.W.A.T. series of the seventies was first and foremost an action oriented show fairly removed from reality. ‘Flashpoint’ represents a more controlled methodology were containment through negotiation is preferable and their modern weaponry a last resort. Even when they are used this series depicts the current trend in law enforcement to deploy less lethal means to resolve the situation at hand; something widely used in these specialized crisis response teams around the world. One of the best attributes of their series has always been its mandate to depict the SRU team members as dedicated professional who feel a death during their mediation of the situation a matter of last resort. These are highly trained offices that prefer to think their way out of an escalating set of circumstances.

Most members of the SRU serve several major functions, a paradigm enforced from the top down. Sergeant Greg Parker (Enrico Colantoni) is not only the team leader but acts in the capacity of their primary negotiator. Parker main responsibility is to determine the strategic tack the mission requires; options ranging from negotiation, less lethal to occasionally having to give the order for lethal force. Second in overall command is Sergeant Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon), the field tactical leader. While Parker typically remains with the onsite command post Lane with closer to the situation deploying the other team members effectively. There is a considerable respect and cooperation between the two sergeants who are also close friends. As this season opens Lane is back after recovering from an on the job injury. During his recuperation the tactical spot was handled by Sam Braddock (David Paetkau), a former member of Canada’s Special Forces in the military. Initially he has some problems relinquishing that position. He is also in a romantic relationship with Jules Callaghan (Amy Jo Johnson), strictly forbidden by regulations. She is the intelligence officer who digs deeply into the participants of the situation to better find a peaceful solution. If that is not possible she is a trained sniper. Rounding out the team are the demolition and technical specialist, Spike" Scarlatti (Sergio Di Zio).

Almost every police procedural series inherently predisposes it to a variety of circumstances and situations but following the exploits of a Special Response Unit enables the writers an even more robust selection of themes to drive the episodic component of the series. There is a better than usual balance achieved between the actions oriented weekly assignments and the personal story threads that tend to unfold throughout a season of in several instances the series as a whole. What this is able to do that has been lost in many similar shows of the genre is to depict the characters as fully realized people with a professional proficiency and the same personal issues in common to us all. This satisfies two different methods of appealing to the audience; the vicarious action and the identifiable emotional components. Through a delicate balance neither aspect of the series ever overwhelms the other.

Most modern police procedurals endeavor to blend the police work with the personal details of the officer’s lives. The over whelming propensity expressed by most representatives of this time honored genre go overboard. The story lines tend to descend into prime time soap operas. The most famous exception is Dick Wolf’s ‘Law & Order’ that lasted two decades largely by keeping such interactions to a minimum. A similar tactic was attempted here albeit several threads that persisted not only through the individual seasons but binding the entire show together. When disclosed to their superiors admonitions are issued, occasionally ignored, but the ones involve always put the job first. As the series draws closer to its dénouement some of the interpersonal relationships surface as concerns of the safety of their loved ones. One familiar connection not revolving around romance surfaces when Lane and Parker have to face a policeman’s proudest and most worrisome moment as their sons step up to become the next generation on the force.

This season, like all of the previous ones, delivers excitement and suspense in better measure than typically found American crime dramas. True, there is the softer, human side of the overall tenure of the series but in this instance it is infused as an accent, a spice to expedite the audience’s ability to connect on an emotional level with the characters. When the primaries are very specific examples of real life heroes it is crucial to provide such a bridge between fiction and reality. The episodes have a tendency to avoid constantly demonizing those targeted by the team. More often than not the people Team One encounters are regular people, reasonable until circumstances force then into unimaginably desperate situations. One episode had a man trying to protect his deaf nephew while another mentally disturbed man hunts for his ex-wife. These are blended with well written crime thrillers including stopping a bomber or freeing hostages from a bank robbery gone terribly awry always, negation is first followed by less lethal means. Only when all else is tried and failed dies the order to use deadly force comes.

There was a previous release titled ‘Season 5’ last year but that appeared to be the second half of the fourth season. Occasionally with television series imported from another country the season number or episode order is altered. This appears to be the case here so even if you own ‘Season 5’ check the episode list or the UPC. This releases on has ‘097368060340’.

Posted 03/21/2014

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