Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana return to prime time tonight with 'Copper'

Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, the executive producers of "Homicide: Life on the Street," return to prime time tonight on BBC America with "Copper," starring Tom Weston-Jones.

(That's Weston-Jones sitting with them in the picture above, taken in California where they were promoting the series.)

Set in 1864 in New York, the series is cop drama meets frontier saga, and I like it.

I loved "Homicide," "Oz" and Levinson's last TV effort, "You Don't Know Jack," a docu-drama look at Dr. Jack Kevorkian, starring Al Pacino, for HBO.

But I hated "The Jury," a series the duo did for Fox. They've had some failed projects since "Homicide" and "Oz," but I think "Copper" could be a winner. And it would be nice to have this team back in prime time.

Here's a radio review I did of "Copper" for WYPR, Baltimore's NPR station.

Analysts have said that America today is more polarized politically than at any time since the Civil War. I think Levinson and Fontana have captured some of the resonance between these two eras.

They do a terrific job in the pilot of constructing 19th-century New York City so that we see the sharp social class divisions -- a world of one very rich upper class and almost everyone else fighting for their scraps. It's a class structure some fear we are headed for again.

Part of the pleasure of the pilot is in watching their police detective, played by Weston-Jones, navigating those class divides. "Copper" is BBC America's first scripted drama. It's a nice way to get in the game.

The series airs at 10 p.m.

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