Canadian television has often been the punch line to a joke. Even with a minor resurgence in homegrown television with Corner Gas, few Canadian television dramas can break through to mainstream audiences outside of the immortal Degrassi (Junior) High. One of Canada’s greatest producers of homegrown television, Chris Haddock, has managed to carve a niche into television with shows like smart television dramas Da Vinci’s Inquest and Da Vinci’s City Hall. Haddock’s latest show, Intelligence, has entered into its second season on CBC, with its season premiering on Mon., Oct. 1 at 9 p.m.
The Monday evening timeslot has invariably been one where extremely popular television dramas have taken root. With monstrously popular shows like Heroes, 24 and Prison Break all playing on Mondays, for a new show to break through it has to be wholly unique. Thankfully, Intelligence delivers. Ignoring the traditional “shocking twist” style of television dramas, Intelligence instead offers a more traditional thriller experience —which is far more natural than a secret cabal of world corporations controlling the president of the United States who framed one man for “killing” her brother.
Instead, Intelligence follows the stories of a mob informant named Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey) and his contact in the Vancouver Organized Crime Unit, Mary Spalding (Klea Scott). Jimmy’s business is drugs—marijuana grow-ops, heroin distribution and cocaine distribution. He runs the family business with his brother and sister and operates a strip club on the side. Spalding makes a deal to ensure her ability to advance in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service—in exchange for the information Jimmy can provide on the international drug smuggling rings that lead to the terrorist cells. In return, Spalding ensures that Jimmy receives immunity from any charges, as well as protection when the Outlaw Bikers, the Reardon crime family’s rivals, start murdering his workers.
Intelligence’s main themes are the role of information; everyone needs it and everyone can provide it. Characters are always wheeling and dealing, telephones are plastered to everyone’s heads and deals are struck with increasing regularity. Spalding strikes a deal with a small-time crook to catch the bigger international drug smugglers. Jimmy uses his contacts in the Organized Crime Unit as a way to get information on his rivals. The international drug smugglers are connected to terrorists—if Spalding can bag one of the bigger drug smugglers, she’ll be moved out of her job in the Organized Crime Unit and into the cushy offices of the newly-minted west coast CSIS directorship. Information is the problem—no one has enough it.
In the second season premiere, everything has gone to pot. Jimmy is on the lamb in the United States, running from a frame up for the very public murder of two cops from friendly fire in a sting gone horribly awry. Mary Spalding’s clenched-teeth lunatic former underling, Ted Altman (Matt Frewer), is the temporary west coast CSIS director. The former CSIS director—an American spy—was murdered by the Reardon family to ensure that he would not out Jimmy as a police informant. Finally, the Reardon family is trying to ensure that Jimmy gets across the border—a risky proposition when Jimmy’s riding the back-roads of Washington on a motorbike!
While the television drama has had its resurgance, it’s always been the same. One man against the whole world, with more-and-more ridiculous plot twists to keep the story strung together for 24 episodes. If you’re tired of the same old thrillers with hackneyed, contrived plotlines and ridiculous, eye-rolling twists in the busy Monday night line-up, CBC’s Intelligence is a wise choice.