Cop drama '19-2' has a harrowing season 2 premiere based on a school shooting - InfoNews

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Cop drama '19-2' has a harrowing season 2 premiere based on a school shooting

January 15, 2015 - 6:15 PM

MONTREAL - When TV critics talk about the current "Golden Age" of television they're usually referring to U.S. cable shows such as "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men" or "True Detective."

Critics and viewers who believe Canada doesn't have its own Golden Age shows will want to watch the second season premiere of "19-2" on Monday on Bravo.

The episode, titled "School," is haunting and harrowing.

"Viewer discretion advised" warnings will run before a special commercial-free encore broadcast on the main CTV network Tuesday.

"19-2" focuses mainly on two police officers — Nick Barron (played by Adrian Holmes) and Ben Chartier (Jared Keeso) — who ride the No. 2 squad car out of a fictional No. 19 Montreal police station.

In the opening episode, they're caught up in a tragic school shooting. The entire division descends upon the high school in a tense stand-off with a gunman. An uninterrupted, 13-minute single-camera tracking shot opens the episode.

"19-2" is the rarest of all Canadian TV shows — an English-language remake of a French-language series.

The original French "19-2," immensely popular in Quebec, is into a third season.

The director of the French version, Daniel (Podz) Grou, was brought back to helm the English second-season opener.

Think about that: as good as any scene is in "Breaking Bad," imagine if Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston got to do it again? Grou got to do a make-over with a bigger budget. According to executive producer Jocelyn Deschenes, speaking last fall at a screening in Toronto, the English version of "19-2" enjoys a $500,000 per-episode budget bump over the French original.

The season 2 premiere, shot throughout two floors of a school building, took a full week just to mike. The 13-minute opening scene took 13 takes according to showrunner Bruce Smith (who was behind another Canadian drama many critics consider Golden Age-quality, "Durham Country").

Grou was able to address mistakes made the first time and add effects that he felt would add to the original. The result is one of the most compelling hours of TV drama ever produced in Canada.

The cast and crew were just getting past that opener when they welcomed a few reporters to a location shoot late last summer in Montreal.

Smith agreed "19-2" shares some similarities with "True Detective," especially with Barron and Chartier being "two guys who sit in a car most of the day and don't talk to one another."

Holmes, in every scene that day, was much more talkative during a hurry-up interview in a car.

"I love playing characters that are so internal they don't need to communicate with a lot of dialogue," he says.

Give him the strong, silent type any time.

"That's one of my strengths," he says. "I've had friends tell me in the past, 'Holmes, what the hell are you thinking?'"

Both Holmes and Keeso went on ride-alongs when they joined the series, embedded with real Montreal police officers as part of their research.

"They gave us an all-access look," says Keeso.

One surprising thing both actors quickly learned: there's not the same respect for authority in Quebec as there is in other provinces.

"Everybody has a smart-ass crack for us," says Keeso, who, while in uniform, sometimes gets nasty shout outs on the street.

"People will start yelling at us in French — we don't even know what the hell they're angry about."

So far the police have given Holmes and Keeso the thumbs up. Even in Toronto, where Holmes was approached by a police officer one night on a downtown street.

"He was just walking up to me, I was like, 'What happened? What I do?'"

Everything right, apparently. The cop just wanted to say he loved the show.

"That is the biggest compliment," says Holmes. "We are re-acting their lives."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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