Canadian TV versus American TV: A side-by-side comparison

So I’ve been watching the 2017 redux of S.W.A.T. I’m not sure it is an improvement over the 1970s version, but then I haven’t seen that since the 1970s. (My dad loved it, and we had 1 TV.) I have also seen the entire Canadian program Flashpoint. Ostensibly these shows are both about the same thing. The Strategic Response Unit of Flashpoint is a bit more complicated than S.W.A.T. even though they do have snipers, and cool gadgets. (Though they don’t have a tank.) They are both the groups that cops call when the regular cops get in trouble, or who are sent in to deal with hostage rescue, fortified locations, etc.

As is typical the American production has a much higher budget. So they can blow up more cars, and buildings. The Canadian production, with its lower budget has to rely on better story-telling and complex character development. Guess which program I find the more compelling, in the long run. I’m not sure if Los Angeles versus Toronto makes a difference, except that SRU has to deal with snow and cold occasionally, and it is nice to see something besides LA (or LA passing itself off as some other city) on television. (Maybe that’s why Blue Bloods is so successful.)

The characters in the American production feel 2-dimensional to me. Or even one dimensional. This is even though there are some good actors (Shermar Moore from Criminal Minds and Kenny Johnson from Saving Grace – both excellent shows) on the program. And this is in spite of the fact that Flashpoint has some questionable casting. (Amy Jo Johnson is not believable as a Strategic Response Unit door-kicker, even though that isn’t all they do.) I find Enrico Colantoni (in the role of the sergeant leading the group on Flashpoint) is a wonderful actor. He isn’t trying to be an action hero; he is thinking and negotiating and leading.

I suppose it is too much to ask that an American TV production in 2017 would lay off the social justice, but they can’t seem to help themselves. It is laid down with a trowel. Or maybe it is poured in place and then leveled with a trowel. Everything from the white-guy who is pissed at being passed over for promotion by women to the lone female in S.W.A.T. (who is bisexual – Yeah! Team Queer!) fighting to get more women through S.W.A.T. academy. (And the episode where she has to “prove herself” to the old white guy who has doubts.) It is surprising to me that one of the cops is portrayed as being Catholic, given how Hollywood hates any and all white, male Christians. One cliche after another lined up like dominoes, and knocked down in a completely predictable order. And I think at least some of the story-line was stolen directly from NCIS – Los Angeles, but maybe I am remembering it incorrectly.

I forget where Flashpoint is streaming, because I dumped both Amazon Prime and Netflix. (They both are annoying in their own way.) But I’m pretty sure it is out there somewhere if you want to take a look. As with all shows, not every episode is good, but I enjoyed it. If all you want to see is a bunch of car crashes, and things exploding, and dialogue between people you really don’t care about, then check out S.W.A.T. (It was on CBS, and will be again – if you have a DVR. Though I’m sure it is streaming somewhere by now as well, or will be soon.)

The men are in crazy-good shape and and the women are hot, so there’s that.

2 thoughts on “Canadian TV versus American TV: A side-by-side comparison

  1. In my cynical moments I think the cop, “Deacon” portrayed as Catholic in S.W.A.T. is there simply to try to play off the success of Blue Bloods. That show – done in NYC, about a family of white, Irish, Catholics – is so much more successful than most of the crap out of LA which is more in tune with Social Justice than morality, must really drive the people in LA crazy.

    A family that meets every Sunday after mass to have dinner, and deal with right and wrong, and how to live an honest life in the world? Where is the social justice????

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