BBC America's Copper Picks Up Where Gangs of New York Left Off

Sunday night sees the premiere of BBC America's first original scripted series, Copper, starring Franka Potente, Tom Weston-Jones, Kevin Ryan and Ato Essandoh, and created by Tom Fontana, the brain behind Homicide: Life on the Street, Oz and St. Elsewhere. Barry Levinson is also an executive producer.

Great pedigree, plus the subject matter -- a post-Civil War New York mired in crime, racial strife and lawlessness -- will show that the 1860s was no rustic, rusty wonderland of harmony and refined manners. The influx of returning war vets means that patriotism will also reach dangerous levels. Bad news for immigrants, great for TV drama.

If you saw 2002's Gangs of New York, all of this territory will be familiar to you, especially if you dug into the history of the city in that turbulent time period. Devoted fans of GONY, a film that wasn't so warmly received by critics (yech, Cameron Diaz), will be at home back in the Five Points of Manhattan.

Period series have been all the rage now for networks following the lead of Mad Men, Hell on Wheels, Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire. This also means that the stakes are higher since these productions are inherently born with a bigger price tag on them.

The tense and symbiotic relationships between the poor and the upper crust of New York City will also be explored, which means there will be plenty of modern allegory in Copper. The lead character is a returning vet who comes back to his life in shambles, and must deal with that while also upholding the law.

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