Brooklyn South was a short lived police drama that focused more on the relationships between the cops than with big crime.
The cast is big, with the focus balanced between most characters. In some shows that would be a total disaster; here however it works. All the main characters are believable, and the casting fits perfectly. Even with the high morals and dedication all the regular cops show, no one in this series is a saint. They have their flaws, but even those who seem to be totally bad end up being shown as only human.
The police work shown is mostly the everyday type of crime; theft and domestic violence with the odd murder here and there. These cops actually mingle with the people; they know the neighborhood and usually try to deal with things by talking. They don't show up with guns blazing. Also, these cops aren't know it alls in the system; they do the basic grunt job most of the time and then deliver the bad guys to the detectives who deal with interrogations.
Interestingly, the bad guys aren't always bad; they're just people who can't deal with whatever life throws at them. Of course there are also those who fit the 'criminally insane'. Not all cops are good either. We're shown a drug addict, bigots and total idiots who shouldn't have made it to the position they hold inside the department.
Dealing with massive story arcs that sometimes blend together, Brooklyn South manages to be interesting but not overly confusing. It doesn't stuble onto its own cleverness either. The individual plotlines are also usually good, dealing with various issues from racism to old family feuds to homosexuality. The last issue is kind of prominent in several storylines but the series portrays gays in different lights too. The main message seems to be that bigotry is wrong no matter what you're racist against.
Unlike the more 'hard edge' cop shows like Homicide or the Wire, Brooklyn South is a feelgood cop show even with the hard issues it deals with. Even though believable in the setting, the characters do seem more idealistic than brutally realistic. The storylines go from tragic to hilarious, but it's never deliberately stupid. For a show that aired for only one season, Brooklyn South also has a lot of relationship drama in the romance sense.
A more cynical viewer might find the show naive and simple due to the lack of darker shades in both the characters and the cases. However it's refreshing to see the life of the 'simple patrolman' that actually makes us believe they want to protect and serve instead of thinking all cops have serious problems with booze and women and should probably get help for their mental problems.
Brooklyn South lasted only for one season, and while it was a disappointment, it probably also saved the show. The one season holds together nicely and shows us one year in the lives of the cops of the 74th precinct. It's a very solid story with a beginning, middle and even an ending that's worth watching more than once.
Brooklyn South may have never caught on with the viewing public, but it's still a top-notch cop show. My only wish is that John Finn's character had been around for the entire first season. He was a treat to watch and the episodes before his arrival seem strangely empty without him.
Some episodes and some characters were better than others, but taken as a whole this series was a treat to watch on DVD. If you can find this series and you like cop shows, I heartily recommend you give it a try.
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