THE BRIDGE: Can The Bridge live up to its Olympic hype?

Can The Bridge live up to its Olympic hype?
By: Alex Strachan
Date: March 5, 2010
The Edmonton Journal


The Bridge, CTV’s new police drama about union bosses, corruption and internal upheaval inside a big-city Ontario police department, comes with a solid pedigree.

The concept is based on the real-life reminiscences of one-time Toronto police union boss Craig Bromell.

The writer is Alan Di Fiore, the co-writer and co-executive producer of Da Vinci’s Inquest, with Chris Haddock.

The star is Aaron Douglas, the New Westminster, B.C.-born actor whose seething, angry-man character Galen Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica was one of that series’ more memorable supporting players — and that’s saying a lot in an ensemble that included James Callis, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Michael Hogan and Edward James Olmos.

Episode directors include Holly Dale, a Gemini winner for Durham County, and John Fawcett, who directed a then-unknown Elisha Cuthbert in Lucky Girl, a searing indictment of teenage gambling addiction.

The Bridge has also been pre-sold to U.S. TV, to CBS, the same network that gave Flashpoint a boost before placing it on the shelf (temporarily, CBS executives say).

CTV promoted The Bridge relentlessly throughout the Winter Olympics, so a large audience is expected to tune in tonight, if only out of curiosity. It’s an open question, though, how many of those viewers will stay in the following weeks. Because the sad truth is that, while there are moments of real intensity — the opening scene, for starters — The Bridge looks and feels very much like a work in progress. Strong scenes are followed by less compelling confrontations, and many of the transitions are awkward. Tonight’s two-hour opener will leave some viewers feeling a little cold, and that’s a shame for a series that comes with such high expectations.

Douglas is convincing as the regular beat cop who, tired of the beating his colleagues are taking in the press, with no support from their union reps or from higher-ups within the police department, decides to run for union boss. He rises swiftly, but of course there are hidden complications — internal politics, rogue cops and recalcitrant bosses who insist that old-school is the only school.

The Bridge’s own internal politics aren’t entirely clear in the opening two hours. Real-world civil-rights advocates are apt to be disturbed by The Bridge’s depiction of police officers who play fast-and-loose with the rules to get what they want, and real-world police officers are apt to be disturbed by The Bridge’s assertion that police corruption and rogue cops are more prevalent than we’d like to think.

Perhaps that’s the point: The police profession, as with any other calling, attracts both heroes and closeted criminals, and it’s not always easy to tell the two apart.

The Bridge is ambitious, adult and compelling, for all its faults. It’s well worth a look. Just don’t compare it to any of the truly memorable police procedurals you may have seen. The Bridge may get there one day, but it isn’t there yet. (CTV, 9 p.m.)

NOTE: This article also appeared in the The Windsor Star with the title ‘Cop drama The Bridge shows rookie jitters’.