Sticking: Copper

Posted on September 19, 2012


When BBC America started advertising a crime drama set in 1860s New York and featuring an Irish detective, that was all we needed to hear.

We Watched It

Detective Kevin “Corky” Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) is a Civil War veteran. During the war, he saved the life of Major Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid). Although the major lost one of his legs, he lived to return to his wealthy father in New York City. No one acknowledges that he lived because of the heroic efforts of his doctor, because Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh) is African-American.

When Corcoran left the Army, he returned to New York, too. There he found his daughter dead and his wife missing. Morehouse used his influence to get Corcoran, and two of his buddies, Francis Maguire (Kevin Ryan) and Andrew O’Brien (Dylan Taylor), inspectors for the New York police.

Now Corcoran investigates crime in the city while looking for his missing wife.


This one is kind of tricky to categorize for me.

On the one hand, the show works very hard to be historically accurate. The attitudes towards the Irish are harsh. Corcoran’s accent and name make him unwelcome in many places. The wealthy are generally immune to prosecution. It makes for gripping period drama.

On the other hand, Corcoran is a brutal, ruthless, man who’s not above taking the law into his own hands and sleeping with Eva Heissen (Franka Potente), a prostitute, while looking for his beloved wife and flirting with the widow, Elizabeth Haverford (Anastasia Griffith), of a pedophile who Corcoran murdered. The scripts, so far, haven’t taken us very far inside Corcoran’s head. So this is a show in search of a protagonist we can root for.

Don’t get me wrong – the show is terrific, and I think that Corcoran’s character is very much a product of the 1860s. I just have very little tolerance for shows that don’t give me a protagonist.

BTW, the show must be set between 1863 and 1865. There were massive riots in New York in both July, 1857 (Dead Rabbits Riot) and in July, 1863 (Civil War Draft Riots), and the show mentions “the riots”. The Civil War is still going on, so it must be happening before May, 1865


Where do I start with this?

Dr. Freeman seems to know an unusual amount about modern forensics – but that may be because my knowledge of science in the 19th Century is weak.

The accents often make the show hard to follow.

There are multiple conspiracies at work in the lives surrounding Corky. So many, in fact, that it makes the direction of the show hard to follow.


This show is in its freshman season. I don’t want to be overly critical of it. Many shows take a season (or two) to settle down. Which shows hooked you early and rewarded you later?

Posted in: television