Last month CultBox headed along to the press screening and Q&A in London for this summer’s new BBC One drama Good Cop, the latest offering from the talented Stephen Butchard, whose previous writing credits include Five Daughters and House of Saddam.
A BBC Drama North production, shot on location in Liverpool and written by Liverpudlian Butchard, the new four-part series marks the lead debut of Warrington born Warren Brown (Inside Men, Luther) in the role of PC Rocksavage. When the young response cop’s friend and partner is brutally attacked by a vicious gang during a routine visit to domestic disturbance, Rocksavage’s whole world begins to shift, as he finds himself faced with a series of decisions that test his sense of justice and morality.
The opening episode of Good Cop contains some extremely unsettling and difficult to watch moments, uncommon in mainstream British TV and comparable in their intensity and rawness to some of the more harrowing scenes from Shane Meadows’ excellent This Is England ’86.
Empathy, sympathy, fear, anger and helplessness are all conjured up with surprising speed and effectiveness and before the audience really has very long to identify with the characters, making the achievements all the more impressive. One scene stands out as particularly impactful and upsetting in equal measure, which those sensitive to depictions of violence may find hard to watch, but which is undeniably central to defining the tone and intentions of the episode and series as a whole.
The only problem with Good Cop, based on the evidence from Episode 1, is the title. When pressed on this during the post-screening Q&A, Butchard seemed to momentarily betray his own reservations when questioned about the naming of the series. “Savage was a good title”, was his response, referring to the series’ working title prior to the change, before putting his official support behind the new name by adding: ‘No, Good Cop is a good title, because that’s what he [Rocksavage] is.” The problem with this title is that it doesn’t do what follows any justice at all and, if anything, only lowers expectations before the opening credits have even begun to roll.
Liverpool born Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire) steals the show as the enigmatically evil, sinisterly threatening villain of the piece. A criminal who handles himself with the equal contempt and disregard for the law and its enforcement officers, and in doing so brings good cop Rocksavage into his line of fire early on the piece, as the two clash over one of Graham’s would-be victims.
Asked about Graham’s involvement in the piece, a crucial component to the electricity of Episode 1, Butchard commented: “What we didn’t want was an archetypal thug. We needed someone who was bordering on evil.”
Brown then went to reveal that Graham’s casting in the part almost didn’t happen and it was only down to their friendship and a timely and coincidental trip to the Emmy’s in LA where the two met up, that the role went the way it did.
A superbly written, directed and acted opening hour of drama, skilfully balancing the bleak realities of a life as an honest northern copper with explosive action and emotional intrigue, we can’t wait to find out whether the rest of the series can live up to this promising start.
Are you looking forward to Good Cop? Let us know below…
Watch the trailer…