The tough nuts behind Canadian intelligence
Intelligence 8.30pm, Hallmark
CANADIAN television has had a powerful influence on the sensibilities of ABC- watching children who grew up in the 1980s and were bowled over by Degrassi Junior High and You Can’t Do That on Television, two of the finest shows made for children.
Then there was Going South, a wry police procedural for adults about a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and his pet wolf on secondment to the Chicago police, and Profiler, featuring a psychic police psychologist with a serial killer on her trail.
So I approached Intelligence with every expectation that it would entertain. I was not disappointed; indeed, the slick production and tight script came as a pleasant surprise, as did the performances of the lead characters.
The set- up is fraught with intriguing moral conundrums, spun from the potentially corrupting and corrosive relationship between an informer and his handler. In this case, the informer is Jimmy Reardon ( Ian Tracey), third- generation head of a British Columbian crime family, who uses the family’s fishing and shipping business to launder the sea of cash he makes distributing BC Bud, a potent form of hydroponically grown marijuana. His prize for co- operating is immunity from prosecution which, considering the scale of his criminal enterprise, is some deal.
There’s nothing thuggish or threatening about Reardon; that is left to his brother Mike ( Bernie Coulson), a surly, murderous halfwit.
While Reardon’s criminality is essential to his character, it is leavened somewhat by his stormy relationship with his estranged wife and young daughter.
Reardon’s handler is the impressive Mary Spalding ( Klea Scott), a tough nut and head of the Vancouver- based Organised Crime Unit who is on secondment to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Spalding is black, which may explain the animosity to her by her CSIS superior Roger Deakins ( Tom McBeath), whom she is being groomed to replace, and her second banana Ted Altman ( Matt Frewer, formerly Max Headroom). Spalding, too, has a sad private life in the form of an adulterous, abusive ex- husband.
‘‘ You, sir, are a nasty little prick and your days are numbered,’’ Spalding says to Deakins by way of a level test into the wireless microphone she has just taped to her breast: clearly not a woman to be toyed with. But Deakins hasn’t read the danger signs and tells her that in future she can’t meet Reardon unless he’s there, too.
When one of Reardon’s growers, who had been informing on him, is found shot dead, it appears all bets are off. The flavour of what appears to be better than average Saturday night viewing is summed up by Spalding’s response when her CSIS boss asks: ‘‘ How exposed are you?’’
‘‘ We’ve got our pants around our bloody ankles,’’ Spalding says.
Smart television: Ian Tracey and Klea Scott star in Intelligence