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Flashpoint

I loved 24. I nearly shed tears during the finale when Chloe had to shut off the drone camera on Jack. It was the first TV series I actually watched each week, as it aired. Now, was it, at times, a little out there? Sure. Did Jack Bauer have a complex that always required people to put their weapons on the ground? Absolutely. Did CTU always choose to ignore the fact that the mole was 95% likely to be one of their own agents? Yea, but what are you gonna do.

But, like I said, 24 came to an end. Thankfully, Netflix gave us seasons eight of the seasons to watch on Instant Streaming. This ate up quite a bit of my time, but after a certain point when you know what’s going to happen – near real-time TV episode begins to drag a tad. I became preoccupied with other things, primarily a girl, and 24 slipped out of my routine.

Enter Flashpoint.

I love this show. The basic premise is that you follow a team of the Police Strategic Response Unit (SRU) in Canada. If you want an American equivalent, a police SWAT team would be a good example.

From the Wikipedia page:

The SRU are tasked to resolve extreme situations that regular officers are not trained to handle including hostage-taking, bomb threats and heavily armed criminals. Equipped with high-tech tools and a cache of weapons and explosives, members use negotiation tactics and intuition to try to avoid the use of deadly force, only implemented when other options are exhausted.

Sound intense? It is. Thus the name, Flashpoint.

Quick chemistry lesson: a “flash point” for a material is the lowest temperature at which it can form an ignitable mixture with air. Explosive, unpredictable and rapid.

Add a little TV dramatization and you’ve got 40+ minutes of solid action and story. But this isn’t just a show filled with bomb threats, guns and action – there is some actual psychological thought and effort put into the script. This is best shown during the the show’s negotiation scenes.

Negotiation plays a huge part of each episode. Whenever a 911 call gets severe enough to warrant an SRU appearance, the “subject” usually has escalated to a dangerous level and there are usually innocent people around who could be in jeopardy. It then becomes the job of Team Sergeant Gregory Parker to begin negotiations. He begins talking with the subject, trying to talk them down, but always doing so earnestly and with a clear focus on the main goal: getting the hostages / people in danger out safely.

While sometimes other members of his team will handle the negotiations, Parker is clearly the professional. He even wrote the handbook the SRU uses to train new members in negotiation. If you watch enough episodes, you’ll eventually hear him echo the sentiment “connect, respect and protect.”

Now, it wouldn’t be a realistic show if every negotiation was a success. Sometimes they aren’t, and those episodes are emotional. But the reason they manage to maintain a high level of quality in what could be a repetitive theme is the writer’s realistic approach to the psychology of someone who’s gone a little crazy. It’s believable. They don’t try and make you stretch too much, and the way the SRU handles every situation make you believe that this actually could be happening somewhere.

I’m still new in the series, and I do have some criticisms so far. But if you like sharp-written dialogue and a great story, as well as one that actually passes my could-this-really-happen test, you’re safe investing in a couple episodes to see if it’s your thing. Currently, Netflix has all four seasons available for streaming.

I’m loving what I’ve watched so far, and look forward to another episode tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012