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'19-2' Review: This Is Not Your Average Cop Show

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Admittedly, "19-2" isn't the best cop series I've ever seen. I know, I know, probably not the ideal way to start off a review, but sometimes I get screeners with more than just the premiere. When I don't like something or feel like I've just wasted 40 or so minutes of my life, the DVD is quickly ejected from my laptop and I go on with my day. That wasn't the case with "19-2." The new original Bravo series had me wanting to know more -- always a good thing -- and I happily clicked on the second episode.

"19-2" alludes to the precinct (19) and the ID number of the car (2) and centres on two officers of the Montreal Police Department, Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes), a veteran beat cop of the city who has just returned to work after the loss of his partner; and Ben Chartier (Jared Keeso), a new transfer from a rural Quebec town, working for the provincial police. Being new partners working the struggling streets of Montreal seems like enough to mine plenty of story, but more dimension is added as the two men are ravaged by so much guilt, making their working relationship a difficult one.

It's easy to label "19-2" as a procedural cop show since it also centres on the rest of their department -- fellow officers Tyler Joseph (Benz Antoine), Beatrice Hamelin (Mylène Dinh-Robic), J.M. Brouillard (Dan Petronijevic), Vince Legare (Tyler Hines) and Audrey Pouliot (Laurence Leboeuf); Sgt. Julien Houle (Conrad Pla); District Commander Marcel Gendron (Bruce Ramsay) and Det. Isabelle Latendresse (Maxim Roy). But it's also a smart drama as the two leads have such compelling pasts.

Barron seems to have the world against him. His colleagues aren't exactly supporting him after the shooting of his partner, and Barron isn't exactly helping his cause, distancing himself from everyone and making Chartier feel lousy. And the same guys who are making Barron's work life miserable are doing a little bit of the same to Chartier, mocking his former small-town life. He is treated as a rookie even though he has more than a decade of experience. Barron and Chartier don't get along at all but, funnily enough, they work fantastically together. They can cut each other up, but when it's time to answer a call, they are all business. The respect for one another will come soon enough but for now, it's icy, at best.

On a personal level, Barron is estranged from his wife (the aforementioned Det. Latendresse), who has no interest in allowing Nick back into their home. The reasoning (which everyone seems to be in agreement with, except Nick)? Barron is out of control and has lost himself. Isabelle doesn't want their son, Theo, to be affected by their dad's fiery behaviour but what she's not understanding is that his absence isn't ideal either.

Unlike Barron, who doesn't allow anyone in, Chartier seems to have it more together and after a short time, already fits in better with the rest of the squad than his partner. But we soon learn that Ben is also grappling with his own demons, hence his transfer to the big city. He has a girlfriend but she had no interest in following him to Montreal -- which will likely prove to be an issue in the future.

"19-2" is adapted from the French-Canadian hit and will get a 10-episode first season. An English-language pilot was shot in Montreal last fall with the same cast members in the lead roles but CBC passed on the project. CBC's loss is apparently Bravo's gain. Its "19-2" is not just your average procedural. It's a character-driven drama that follows two not-so-different men from very different worlds as they learn to work with one another. The acting is solid and organic, the pace is perfect, the writing is real and natural and believable, and the stories hit home. If you don't know French or have access to the original, Bravo's "19-2" is definitely worth checking out.

"19-2" premieres Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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