Surprisingly, The Glades is Not Just Another Florida Cop Show

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I know what you’re thinking: Another police procedural?

Yes, on the surface, The Glades may seem like your run-of-the-mill cop drama. Sure, it has the staples: a detective who won’t play by the rules, his put-upon partner, his tough-as-nails boss, a swampy Florida locale. But The Glades is far from a CSI: Miami rip-off—A&E;’s new series is smart, entertaining, and surprisingly funny.

“It kind of lives in the world of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen,” executive producer Gary Randall says. “Florida is definitely a character.”

The on-location filming is part of what distinguishes The Glades, as I saw last week when I visited the show’s set. While some of the scenes are shot on a soundstage, much of it is done outdoors, which gives the series a rich, authentic feel.

“There are so many things that are just pure Florida,” explains Matt Passmore, who stars as Detective Jim Longworth. “And then you throw homicides in around that, and you get a pretty unique story that has lots of twists and turns.”

But, as Passmore notes, murder is only part of the fun. The Glades offers an enticing assortment of characters, including Jim’s love interest, Callie Cargill, played by Lost’s Kiele Sanchez. Character actor Carlos Gomez plays Carlos Sanchez, the medical examiner who finds himself unwillingly cast as Jim’s sidekick.

“It’s a funny show,” Sanchez chimes in. “It’s not a dark show. It’s not too intense. We have a killing that we have to solve, but it’s on the lighter side.”

Much of the humor comes from the character of Jim Longworth, a sarcastic smart-ass from Chicago who’s only in Florida because he was falsely accused of sleeping with his former Captain’s wife. As Passmore characterizes him, Jim isn’t a bad guy—he’s just not easy to get along with.

“He’s not a prick,” Passmore says. “He doesn’t enjoy people being upset or anything like that. It’s just a fact of life. You’re not gonna open up to me unless you’re uncomfortable, so I’ve got to get you uncomfortable.”

When Jim isn’t hitting on Callie, he’s bonding with her 12-year-old son Jeff (Uriah Shelton). He pushes people’s buttons to get the job done, like when he riles up Carlos by bringing in geeky grad student Daniel (Jordan Wall) as an intern in the medical examiner’s office. All of the characters combine to form an engaging ensemble.

As Passmore puts it, “It’s a character-based procedural. It’s still a cop show. You know, you get to follow a great little mystery, which usually has a fun element to it. But then you’re also bringing unique characters to that.”

Randall agrees. While he was instantly drawn to the sharp humor in The Glades’ pilot script, he says they struck gold with a great cast and genuine chemistry.

“I believe television is about inviting people into your living room,” he reflects. “And this is just a group of people you want to hang out with. The mystery is just icing on the cake.”

I’m inclined to agree. Simply put, The Glades is a likable show. It’s fun and, despite the format, it feels fresh. While I was reluctant to add another police series to my viewing schedule, I was pleasantly surprised by this one—and that’s before I met (and was charmed by) the cast.

Passmore says it well: “The great thing is, you’re dealing with really dark issues in a show that brings a lightness to it—or dances around it.”

Follow writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

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