Television

New Shows: The Jason Clarke Watch

March 6, 2011

I’m exactly four episodes into two new shows similar in their focus on the intersection of politics and crime, and both starring an actor I’ve only just heard of:  Jason Clarke.

On DVD, I’m just getting into season one of Brotherhood, which ran for three seasons on Showtime.  So far it strikes me as a small-scale hybrid of The Sopranos and The Wire.  Clarke stars here as Providence, Rhode Island city councilman Tommy Caffee, a man of integrity struggling to do the right thing despite the corruption of the local government — and the influence of the local Irish mob on how things are done.  Tommy’s efforts are complicated further by the return of his long-exiled brother Michael (Jason Isaacs), a sociopathic gangster with ties to a local mafia hood.  So far Brotherhood — helmed by Henry Bromell of Rubicon — strikes me as a low-key, intriguing drama that, like other Bromell shows, has a slow-building, cumulative effect.  It lacks The Sopranos’ charisma and The Wire’s complexity, but it’s similarly compelling in its own quiet way, and so far I’m finding it very much worth watching.

In real time, I’ve been following The Chicago Code on Fox.  Helmed by Terriers showrunner Shawn Ryan, the show stars Jennifer Beals as Teresa Colvin, the superintendent of police in Chicago, who taps her old partner Jarek Wysocki (Clarke) to help her clean the corruption out of city government.  Her primary target:  alderman Ronin Gibbons (a wonderfully devious Delroy Lindo).  So far I’m enjoying this one, too, which mashes up an NYPD Blue-like cop milieu with Terriers-like thematic undertones.  Clarke is fun here as a loose cannon, lone wolf detective who can’t seem to keep a partner, while Beals provides a strong  central presence.  Friday Night Lights’ Matt Lauria is also onboard as a quick-witted rookie detective looking to stick as Wysocki’s wingman.

These shows aren’t quite replacing last season’s tragically departed Rubicon and Terriers for me — neither show’s characters have quite gotten their hooks into me in that way — but they’re dishing out some decent Bromell and Ryan vibes nonetheless, and I expect to follow them with interest.

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