Flashpoint [CBS, Fridays, 10/9C] looks like a lot like an updating of SWAT – for most of the first two acts. The members of Toronto’s Strategic Response Unit [based on the real Emergency Task Force], Team One, are called in to deal with a hostage situation – which is resolved, uncharacteristically, before the end of the second act.
The teaser introduces SRU Team Leader Ed Lane [Hugh Dillon] and sets up the team’s shift preparation and a hostage situation. When the call comes in, assignments are made and the team rolls. Onsite, Jules [Amy Jo Johnson] and Ed take up sniper positions [Ed winds up being lead when her location isn’t as good as his] and Sergeant Gregory Parker [Enrico Colantoni] tries to talk the gunman into putting down his gun.
To this point, Flashpoint is a smoothly executed cop show as it cuts back and forth between the events leading up to the hostage taking and the team’s shift preparations. The difference comes in the second act, when the situation is resolved and we follow Ed through the regulation follow-up investigation. Now we’re into something different – the way the day’s work affects Ed – leading up to the ep’s compelling final scene.
At first Flashpoint seems like just another cop/SWAT series, but then it takes a turn that changes the game for the characters and the audience. As skilfully as the first two-thirds of the episode are produced, the flashpoint pilot doesn’t quite fully engage us until after the resolution of the hostage situation, when Dillon takes Ed through some strange and affecting moments. When Parker tells him that he’ll one day have to do the math on the “I’m fines,” Flashpoint goes from being about cops to being about people – people working a job that has incredible ramifications. From that point on, it’s appointment TV.
Final Grade: B