THE BRIDGE: Cdn ‘Bridge’ has American feel

Cdn ‘Bridge’ has American feel
By: Bill Harris
Date: March 4, 2010
Source: Toronto Sun


OK, we’ve been in a lot of bars across North America. Not braggin’ or complainin’, just sayin’.

We bring this up having just watched the two-hour debut episode of the CTV cop drama The Bridge, which airs Friday.

The main off-duty watering hole for the police in The Bridge is a place called Ruby’s. There are a lot of scenes there, at least in the first two hours.

But while The Bridge clearly is set in Toronto, our well-conditioned “bar radar” senses something different.

The look and feel of Ruby’s, at least in the way it’s presented here, screams Boston or New York. It doesn’t feel like Canada. It feels like the United States.

And ultimately, so does The Bridge. The atmosphere of this Canadian series is very, very American, right down to the accents of some of the characters.

That’s an interesting result, given the Canadian pedigree of The Bridge. It was inspired by the insights of former Toronto police union head Craig Bromell, who serves as an executive producer.

But the path to broadcast was a winding one for The Bridge, which has been sitting around ready to go for quite a while.

Back when the TV and film writers’ strike prompted a creative ice age in the United States, CBS bought into The Bridge, in the same way it bought into another CTV series, Flashpoint. But as the U.S. writers got back to work, the notion that “international co-productions” would be the wave of the future quickly was erased, and CBS would not commit to an air date for The Bridge.

Finally, CTV got tired of waiting. That’s why The Bridge is debuting Friday only on CTV, not on CBS.

Anyway, now that the Canadian public finally gets to see The Bridge, what can they expect?

First, the good news: Series lead Aaron Douglas is compelling as Frank Leo, a.k.a. the Bromell-based character. There are no weak actors among the supporting cast. In performance and production, The Bridge is very slick.

Plot-wise, however, we had a big problem with the “everything but the kitchen sink” aspect of the two-hour debut.

Often when Canadian series go for “dark” they get “dour.” It seems The Bridge was so acutely aware of that pot-hole, it chose to assault the audience with a story-line way too full of extremes and twists and double-crosses.

In no particular order, here are some of the things that occur in the first two hours of The Bridge:

Suicide. Hit-and-run homicide. A guy making out with a lesbian. Drug-dealing kid. Sex scandal. Dead family members. High-speed chase through residential neighbourhood. Heart attack. Loss of limb. Insurance scam. Amateur video of alleged police misconduct. Secret recordings. Open propositioning of co-workers. And more secret meetings in cars and outdoor locations than we ever could possibly count.

By the end, we must admit, we were just waiting for it to be over.

Now, maybe the two-hour chunk is the problem. Perhaps we’ll go back and watch it again, splitting it into separate one-hour viewings. But hey, the debut is airing in a two-hour chunk, so that’s the fairest way to analyze it.

The Bridge is a Canadian series that doesn’t feel Canadian, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As we said earlier, it is very well-acted and sharply produced.

But for us, without question, The Bridge in a two-hour block is a Bridge too far.