It's all very Gangs of New York
, this 10-part BBC America series about the grubby realities of life in Manhattan, circa 1864. A bitter Irish-American detective and Civil War veteran named Kevin "Corky" Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) wades through murder cases and official corruption in the rough "Five Points" ghetto. To add to the copper's angst, his wife and child have long been missing, a nightmare that is barely helped by the attention of the local madam (Franka Potente) or a Fifth Avenue society lady (Anastasia Griffith). The series doesn't stint on seedy atmosphere (be prepared for child prostitutes and back-alley abortionists), although it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the multiple plotlines within the ramshackle infrastructure and sprawling cast of characters. All of which would be a little easier to hang with if the series had snappier writing and a more compelling lead character; Corcoran is generic to a fault, and Weston-Jones is not a lively presence. The show picks up as it goes along, and we get some satisfactory payoffs in the last couple of episodes, but the characters never do color in their conventional outlines. At least the second season holds a tease or two--why else introduce John Wilkes Booth as a character in the late going here? Cast commentaries, deleted scenes, and making-of featurettes fill out the three-disc package in expected ways; the most original and amusing extra is exec producer Tom Fontana's tour through present-day New York, pointing out how the old Five Points neighborhood has changed. --Robert Horton
From Emmy(R)-winner Tom Fontana, Academy Award(R)-nominee Will Rokos and Academy Awardr-winner Barry Levinson comes Copper, BBC America's first original scripted series. Copper is set in 1860s New York City. The 10-part drama centers on Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones, MI-5), an intense, rugged Irish-American cop working the city's notorious Five Points neighborhood. Corcoran is struggling to maintain his moral compass in a turbulent world, while on an emotional and relentless quest to learn the truth about the disappearance of his wife and the death of his daughter. His friendship with two Civil War compatriots - the wayward son of a wealthy industrialist and an African American physician who secretly assists Corcoran with his detective work - takes him to the contrasting worlds of elegant Fifth Avenue and an emerging African-American community in rural northern Manhattan. The three men share a secret from their experience on the battlefield that inextricably links their lives forever.