5 Reasons Why Copper Should Not Have Been Cancelled!
Listen up BBC America! In today’s cut-throat ratings-obsessed TV culture, shows fall by the wayside more frequently than successes are forged. But is that right?
It certainly isn’t in the case of everyone’s favourite Copper – by which I mean, TV AFTER DARK’s favourite Copper. We don’t think Corky should have been axed from our screens after his second season, and here are just 5 of the numerous reasons:
Season 2 of Copper saw better storylines and more of an engaging and clear season arc in the shape of Donavan v. Corky. The producers also “perfected” the format of the series: “Last year we had one foot in this gritty story of New York in the 1860s and one foot in a procedural crime show format,” said co-creator Tom Fontana. “Now [we’re not] trying to solve a murder a week.” It’s a wise move, enabling them to look more at the unique setting of the series and the vast array of stories they could tell, as opposed to just telling murder stories like every other show on television. The final few episodes of Season 2 proved this, with an epic showdown followed by a road movie – the sorts of stories that Copper maybe wouldn’t be brave enough to tell in Season 1. And Season 1 wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination!
The story of race relations in 1860s America, mainly seen through the eyes of Matthew Freeman, was one of the biggest triumphs of Copper. Scenes like Matthew confronting his attacker in episode 2×12 are memorable for their simplicity. From Sara Freeman’s revelation that her brothers were hanged from the lamppost outside her home, the series never pulled any punches. Respectfully but honestly, it explored the issue.
That’s right, we’ve all heard the whispers. Orphan Black is television’s newest golden boy (well we’ll have to find something to fill the Breaking Bad-shaped void). It is likely that this, BBC America’s only other original programme, is partly the reason why Copper now seems extraneous to the network. But for that to make sense, you have to think that a network only needs one success story, which is obviously ridiculous. Arguably, numerous big shows is exactly what the fledgling channel needs. Two successes are always better than one.
Corky was an outsider striving to be immersed and, simultaneously a bit jaded by, American society. That is as accurate a description you will ever get of a British channel trying to break America! And that is exactly why, in terms of content and themes, Copper was so much more fitting as a flagship. The story it was telling was a crucial part of American history, so the series was carving out a place in American culture. This is surely the most compelling argument to keep Copper, although the next one is pretty persuasive too…
The gruesome shot of bodies in barrels! Eva’s Paradise… deserted! Eva! Where’s Eva? And we pan out, across the turbulent Five Points, set to get even more turbulent in Season 3… Except there will be no Season 3. There’s nothing worse than a series that sets up for a new story only to not get to tell it. It’s like British drama The Hour all over again, which this week won an Emmy! Cliffhangers are designed to be resolved, and so this one should be.
There are, of course, hundreds of other reasons (Kyle Schmid is a reason in himself!) but all point towards the same thing: Copper should have been renewed. It makes sense that networks decide television shows’ fates on the basis of how many people tune in; after all, art is made to be seen. But it is important, now more than ever, to remember that that should not be the only way by which it is judged. Thomas Hardy… Vincent Van Gogh… the list of artists and works that were not appreciated in their time or for a time is huge, and goes to show that instant popularity is not necessarily the yardstick by which everything should be measured. A slow-burning but faithfully-supported hit is exactly what Copper could have been, and what television needs.