How BBC America Struck Gold with ‘Copper’


In the summer of 2012, BBC America premiered their show Copper, which was seen by over 1 million viewers on its premiere night. As the season progressed, the numbers eventually dwindled, but it still held onto a core viewership. With season two beginning on June 23, fan numbers appear to have risen due to both word of mouth and gaining new viewers through Netflix streaming. With a great cast, great characters and wonderful writing, BBC America’s first season of Copper struck gold for the cable channel, with the possibility of having a long, illustrious series on their hands.

Copper is fortunate enough to have a top notch cast that provide performances worthy of applaud. Cast as the lead, Tom Weston-Jones plays Kevin Corcoran, a New York cop looking for his wife, who went missing while he was fighting in the war. Weston-Jones plays Corcoran as a cop with a heart in a time where there seemed to be no such thing. Despite being a good man, he still has his faults. While he loves, and searches for his wife, he maintains a sexual relationship with the madam of a brothel. Weston-Jones, who hails from England, is able to shift from an almost American accent, one that would be common in 1864, to an Irish accent depending on the character he is speaking to. That alone makes him fun to watch as an actor and adds depth to his character, who knows how to get information out of certain witnesses.

The cast also features Kyle Schmid and Ato Essandoh who play Robert Morehouse and Matthew Freeman, respectively. Schmid plays Morehouse with a boyish charm that at times makes him frustrating, but in a good way. You can never be sure where Morehouse’s loyalties lie, with the Union, Detective Corcoran, the Confederates or if he is only loyal to himself. Essandoh plays Freeman, a freed slave who is friends with Corcoran. Not only is Freeman the doctor for the freed slaves, but he is a brilliant man with a vast understanding of science. He’s usually the first man that Corcoran goes to when there is a dead body. Along with that, he also cares for his wife who lives in fear after the Irish riots the year before.

The three actors, Weston-Jones, Schmid and Essandoh, have great chemistry and each bring interesting aspects to their well-written characters. All the actors and actresses are skilled, other names worth mentioning are Franka Potente and Kevin Ryan, who both add depth to the series and help it progress.

The show has been criticized by some for their lack of likable female characters. Franka Potente plays Eva, the madam of a brothel. Her intentions are often hazy and her actions questionable, but she is one of the smartest characters in the series. Using her brains, and her body, Eva is able to reach ranks that someone of her social status and sex were unable to reach at the time. Anastasia Griffith stars as Elizabeth Haverford, the wife of Winfred Haverford. Early on it’s clear that Mrs. Haverford is smart and can manipulate those around her with both her sex appeal and her money. The most controversial character is Annie, played by Kiara Glasco. Annie is a child prostitute who Corcoran meets in the series premiere. She reminds him of his deceased daughter, which causes him to want to take care of her like his own child. Annie makes it clear that that isn’t what she wants. None of these characters are likable in most cases, but their wit and power make them stronger than the average TV character. All the characters make questionable decisions and no one has a clear conscience, which is what makes the series interesting.

Most television dramas only feature one or two characters who evolve as the season progresses, but all the leads in this change from the events of the series. Some characters become more likable once you find their motives, but others show their true, dark nature. The writing staff deserves to be applauded for both the great characters and fantastic storylines. They were able to create a cop drama set in the 1800’s that not only captured the times, but the people in it. It’s the kind of series that has a murder a week, but it plays second fiddle to the main story, that being Corcoran trying to solve the mystery of his wife. There are so many storylines throughout the series, that you’re bound to find one that you enjoy.

Copper isn’t perfect, the production value isn’t the highest and it’s visible in some of the sets. It has the occasional brief nudity, harsh language, mature storylines and violence, which make it inaccessible for young audiences. There are also a few historical errors that can be noticeable to the many history buffs in the world. Despite all these, the show is still an entertaining cop drama that deserves all the praise that it has so far received. The reasons why the first season was successful are also the reasons why BBC America could have a long-running drama series. At this point, it’s all up to the viewers.

The second season is set to premiere June 23 on BBC America.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Great series man. Excellent writing with the willingness to address usually taboo issues (such as child prostitution) and the careful shading of characters (none are fully prepared to lie or commit murder for a higher good). Next season is going to be a blast!

  2. Andrew Couzens

    I hadn’t even heard of this show, but it sounds right up my alley. Guess I’ll just have to wait until it pops up in Australia.

    • Amanda Gostomski

      Haven’t heard of the show either.

    • Apparently it aired on FX Australia. I only heard of the show because I watch BBC America, mostly Doctor Who. Now they’re advertising the series elsewhere.

    • Owen Marks

      Copper was shown in sync with the second half of the walking dead last year on FX channel on foxtel in Australia. I think it still shows re-runs

  3. There does seem to be a certain charm to this, even though I personally would have had it a bit less gritty.

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