Episode 1 Recap: Luck of the Irish

A look at last night’s series premiere, “Surviving Death,” from opening credits to inaugural cliffhanger!

You Can Dance If You Want To
Before we talk Five Points, let’s watch the Copper opening credits again. If this sequence doesn’t inspire a jig, both your legs must be broken.

Ok, down to business.

Welcome to New York
“Poverty, wretchedness, and vice are rife enough where we are going now. This is the place—these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with, dirt and filth.” – Charles Dickens

New York hater Charles Dickens wasn’t just in a mood – when he wrote of his visit to Five Points in 1842, the notorious New York City slum was equal parts melting pot and garbage dumpster. The neighborhood’s tenements were grossly overcrowded and disease-ridden, the streets were filthy, lawless, and flooded with sewage, and Paradise Square – the ‘heart’ of the neighborhood, constructed over a filled pond – was literally sinking into the ground.

Five Points, New York City: Come drown on dry land!

Despite what Charles might tell you, visiting New Yuck of yesteryear for an hour every Sunday is definitely worth the trip, if only to see Manhattan before it became the land of the cynic and the home of Duane Reade. If you’re not a history buff, well, this isn’t your standard period drama. Executive producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana will be the first to tell you that ‘Copper’ is character study, not just a history lesson. So yes, you might actually learn something about America, but your professor will be a shirtless Tom Weston-Jones. Yowsa!

Which brings us to last night’s premiere.

You Can Talk, Or You Can Pray (Or You Can Die)
The opening scene of Copper says a lot about the state of law enforcement back when. Today, the NYPD stand for ‘Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect.’ In 1864, it was Shoot First, Ask Questions Never. In fact, the coppers of yesteryear were just as gangster as the actual gangsters. So if you’re a baddie robbing a bank, you can forget about being caught and cautioned. Your warning is a bullet in the head.

Detective Kevin Corcoran is a member of this lawless group of law enforcement, and just like his New York neighborhood, he’s a man drowning. He’s made it through his Civil War tour alive, but his big welcome home is a missing wife and a dead daughter. Where’s the wife? How did his daughter die? Someone surely knows, but they probably won’t talk ’til Corky locks them up in them basement, strips them down, and starts in with the pistol-whipping. Until that glorious day, we must patiently wait.

Problems on the home front aside, Corky’s got a pretty cushy life, right? Long, lazy, humdrum days filled with bloody shootouts, basement torture chambers, sex dens, and jail cells. In addition to our hero’s 99 problems, Detective Corky’s also assigned himself the task of capturing a child killer, a fellow by the name of Robert Haverford. Here is a man whose perversions include sleeping with young girls at the local Bordello, then offering a deadly thank you thwap on the head with his cane. In this case, we all know whodunit, the question is, how will Corky trap a man who can easily buy his freedom from corrupt coppers? Mrs. Haverford is onto her husband’s seedy proclivities, and she wants JUSTICE. We want justice, too. And her wardrobe.

‘Copper’ Gold Nuggets

Annie get your egg! Fun fact: Kiara Glasco, the brilliant actress who plays Annie Reilly, tells us about her opening scene with Corky: “The most challenging part of the sequence is, well, I had to eat 15 hard boiled eggs, because they filmed it shot by shot.” GOOD LORD. FIFTEEN hard boiled eggs?! Someone give this girl an Emmy.

Is There a Doctor In the House? Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh) can rest assured that if the doctoring biz doesn’t pan out, he could have a very lucrative career as an artist. The man’s a medical etch-a-sketch!

More Robert Morehouse. Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) is the Chuck Bass of 1864. Which is to say, he is a player, a womanizer, a boozehound, and yet by some miracle, a pretty likeable guy! Here’s to more Morehouse, Manhattan’s premiere playboy.

Burnin’ Up the Brothel: Eva and Corky. Two kids just tryin’ to keep it honest. This duo must be why everything’s bursting into flames in the opening credits. It’s a comfortable 900 degrees in Paradise.

So Copperheads, what did you think of last night’s premiere? Is Corky going to take Mr. Haverford down? Who are you voting for in the next election – McClellen or Lincoln? Has anyone seen Corcoran’s locket? Share your Copper commentary below!

  • Josh

    I watched the show and enjoyed, but i have a major grpe with he writer’s use of the phrase “luck of the Irish”. This phrase is a reflection of Irish irony, it is said wistfully, indicating that the Irish are, indeed,not lucky t all.

  • Rick

    Awesome title sequence!

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.koenig.35 Peter Koenig

    I thoroughly enjoyed Episode 1. The attention to period detail is especially impressive. “A character study, not a history lesson”? Don’t sell yourselves short, lads – so far (not so very far yet) so good. Just don’t fall into the type of absurd ahistorical plot gaffe that marred the end of Gangs of New York. Incidentally, the Dickens quote dates from 1841.

  • Bernice

    I was bored while I was waiting for my husband to pick me up
    from work today, so I watched the season premier of Copper at Dish Online and I think
    I may have found my new favorite show. The background story for Corky is a
    little used, but the new faces and beautiful dresses definitely make up for
    that. It reminded me of Gangs of New York a lot. One of my colleagues at Dish recommended Copper to me and I don’t think I can
    thank her enough.

    • Ignotus

      Please don’t say Gangs of New York. Daniel Day-Lewis gave a stunning performance – spot on in every detail – in a movie that otherwise mocked history. The Union Navy bombarding the Five Points with cruise missles (apparently – even howitzers could not have ranged that far inland)? So far, Copper is quite accurate. Note that Copper is set after the Draft Riot of 1863 – and the Five Points is (are?) still standing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.koenig.35 Peter Koenig

    Got a question. Morehouse is an aristocrat, but apparently served with Corcoran in the War. Which regiment? Per the script, Corcoran was in the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry – composed chiefly of Irish immigrants. Morehouse likely would have been in the 7th New York Militia (New Yorkers know the 7th Regiment Armory – yeah, that’s them) – drawn from the upper strata of NYC society. Corcoran’s regiment was at Gettysbury; the 7th NYM was in NYC at the time. Didn’t trace the regimental histories, but I doubt the two units were brigaded together.
    BTW, there was another “7th New York,” known as the Steuben Regiment, recruited largely in NYC, but they were almost all European (and veterans of European wars to boot). And there was another “71st New York” too – the 71st NY Militia (National Guard), but it was composed solely of American-born Protestants: definitely not Corcoran’s regiment.
    Any writers listening?

  • Don from Mac

    A most enjoyable look at ‘policing years ago’. Since I am 71 years old I can vagely remember the tactics of police when I was a youngster. It was not as brutal as displayed in the BBC show, but it sure was a far cry from that which is practiced today. An officer did not run after a suspect, he shot him to enable the arrest. I look forward to seeing more of this exciting, and hopefully continuing accurate, polce drama.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002286481292 Allison Johnson

    Cool Hand Luke can eat FIFTY EGGS!