Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'Flashpoint' Season Two (2009)

Starring Hugh Dillon, Enrico Colantoni and Amy Jo Johnson
Created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern

Flashpoint: The Second SeasonSergeant Greg Parker (Enrico Colantoni) and the Toronto Strategic Response Unit (SRU) are back for another batch of hostage situations, bomb threats and wild shooters in this second season of the Canadian police procedural "Flashpoint."

The team breaks in a new member, Donna Sabine (Jessica Steen), while Jules Callaghan (Amy Jo Johnson) recovers from her wounds sustained in the season one finale.  This season, team will encounter homeless men taking a CEO hostage, Russian thieves, baby-stealing teens, bullied students pushed too far, and a woman dying of a degenerative disease with nothing left to lose.  They'll use all their skills and equipment to make sure that everyone makes it out alive, but sometimes that just isn't possible; some people are just intent on violence... and not every member of the team will make it out alive.

The second season of "Flashpoint" trumps the first in almost every way, but not quite.  There are some format and cast changes that can make the season feel slightly inconsistent.  Johnson's absence, due to her pregnancy, makes for some decent changes in the cast chemistry, but it's too bad Steen doesn't stick around for the rest of the season.  A recurring character, Amanda Luria (Ruth Marshall), the team's forensic psychologist who helps develop profiles of the suspects, doesn't appear... her role is mostly split up amongst other characters, including an expanded role for the SRU's dispatcher.

Still, despite these minor issues, Season Two does a much better job presenting a greater variety of situations for the team to deal with.  Highlight episodes include "The Fortress," in which a nanny and two small children are held captive in a mansion with a top-of-the-line security system, "Perfect Storm," in which a bullied teen hunts down his tormenters through a high school, "One Wrong Move" when the team faces off against an eco-terrorist serial bomber, and "Coming to You Live," which features a radio talk host kidnapping a prominent city politician and putting him on trial for murder - on air.

Character development is still fairly minimal, but as a procedural, that's to be expected, if lamented.  The cast is clearly up to it, since they handle their emotional moments well.  The problem is that few of these emotional arcs carry over episode to episode.  In one episode, the team is racked with grief over the loss of one of their own, but by the end of the next, they've accepted their new teammate without question or difficulty.

But since "Flashpoint" simply isn't interested in being that kind of drama, it's hard to fault it.  It does what it does well, even if I believe it's capable of doing something different.  The greater variety of situations is welcome, since Season One felt rather repetitive.  The show isn't afraid of putting children in danger, either, which is fairly refreshing (if reprehensible, in real life).  More of the situations seem to end in deadly violence this year, which feels like some kind of "make it more action-y" mandate from above, but the morals of the show are still intact - the team still tries everything it can to end a situation peacefully, and the characters will sometimes argue about how much force is necessary in certain situations.

Season Two of "Flashpoint" is a bit more enjoyable than Season One, thanks to a greater variety of stories.  It's a fine procedural, one that focuses more on tension, suspense, and characters making emotional connections rather than coldly analyzing data in a lab or detectives running down leads.  It's a bit more muscular and action-oriented, and easy to digest a couple episodes at a time.  It has the potential to be a greater drama, but for what it is, it's rather enjoyable.

See Also
Season One