19-2 (English Version) – Season 1

19-2 is the English version of the French language Canadian series that debuted in 2011. The English 19-2 has a different cast (with one exception) and different directors but basically follows the same storylines and theme as the French version. Shot & set in Montreal, 19-2 focuses on the lives of two beat cop (patrol officers) of the Montreal Police Department. 19-2 refers to their patrol car unit #2 of the fictional station #19, driven by veteran Montreal cop Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes) and his new partner from a small town Ben Chartier (Jarred Kesso). Also starring are Mylene Dinh-Robic, Benz Antoine, Conrad Pla, Laurence Lebouf, Bruce Ramsey, Dan Petronijevic & Maxim Roy as Detective Isabelle Latendresse and Nick’s estranged wife. Tyler Hynes, Jayne Heitmeyer, Sarah Allen & Tattiwana Jones have recurring roles.

Officer Barron is traumatized and has deep pangs of guilt; his partner¬†Jean-Pierre Harvey and he were on patrol one night when they answered a call about a possible break in at a factory. Barron feels that that there is no need for backup as the place is quiet and they go in – Harvey gets shot in the end and although Barron gets the bad guy, his partner suffers from brain damage and is mostly restricted to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, needing special care at a nursing center. After a long break from work, Barron comes back to work and his supervisor¬†Sergeant Julien Houle (Pla) assigns officer Ben Chartier, newly arrived in Montreal from a small town in the country, as his partner. Barron is resentful, not willing to babysit ‘bambi’ or a rookie but the orders are from above. With Commander Gendron (Ramsay) just waiting for Nick to screw up, the pressure is on. After a couple of days Ben, who has a reputation as a very clean and by the book cop in his hometown, is asked by Gendron to basically report back to him on Nick if he screws up. The straight forward Ben thinks it over and even though he & Nick are not getting along much, he tells the commander that he cannot do that to his partner.

Instead of complicated cases and detective work and cliched cop shows, this show is more gritty, emotional an character driven. Other than the huge guilt that Nick is carrying, there’s his relationship with his son an estranged wife Isabelle, who is also his senior being a detective, a role Nick himself decided to pass over earlier in his career. He is plagued by hallucinations of Harvey, who he also visits regularly at the clinic. Ben’s past is shown as also being estranged from his family; he arrested his alcoholic father who drove while drunk and almost killed a kid, leaving him on the side of the role. His older brother and father resents him while his mother tries to keep the peace. That led to his decision to move to Montreal, a move which did not go well with his longtime girlfriend¬†Catherine and they break up after trying the long distance thing. The other cops are given time to shine – Beatrice Hamelin (Dinh-Robic) is a lesbian and a new affair with a wild medic costs her her service pistol and a reprimand from her boss. Tyler Joseph (Antoine) is an alcoholic who can barely function on some days and is being carried by his partner Beatrice who covers for him due to loyalty. But he manages to screw even his new friendship with Ben, crashing a date that Ben has with Amelie – a social worker who he met while on the job and who it turns out is Nick’s much younger baby sister.

Nick is also in an on & off relationship with fellow cop Audrey (Lebouf), which does not sit well with Isabelle as they all frequent the same bar run by Marie. Just when he looks set to commit to Audrey and gifts her a rescue dog, he & Isabelle share a night of passionate sex. The next day Isabelle changes her tune (did she do that on purpose to push a wedge between him & Audrey, who also gets along great with their son) much to Nick’s despair as he really wanted his family back. But the pick of the bunch is J.M. Brouillard (Petronijivic) who struts around like a real ladies man, being obnoxious and prissy – when Nick & Ben gets a call from a lady friend of Nick’s who is being beaten by her husband, it turns out to be J.M and he pleads to his fellow officers not to report the incident as it could very well mean his job. And the woman also pleads saying that JM will change. Over time Nick & Ben do bond but also have a huge fight when Nick catches Ben & Amelie in bed together at the family cabin. Things take a turn for the worse when Harvey dies and Audrey, who was on solo patrol near a college, is beaten brutally by a group of college students into a state of unconsciousness and ends up in a coma. The other cops finds a video of the assault uploaded to the internet and track the leader of the group.

It turns out that the assault was for revenge for a friend of theirs being busted for selling drugs and the commander tells Isabelle to leak the identity of the assailant leader to the rest of the squad. The cops surround the assailant, who pleads for his life, and they are about to beat him senseless but Ben makes the others stop and bring the assailant in. In the midst of all this Nick is called up by higher ups and told that he was specifically brought in from his hometown to Montreal, with his transfer request going through without a hitch, as they felt that he was the right man for a job. There is a leak in the division, a leak to criminal & drug gangs and all roads point to Nick – which is why they wanted a decent, straight laced cop to be his new partner. Ben cannot believe it but he is told that he is to find out if Nick really is the leak & informant, as the season ends.

Gripping, brutal, well acted and well shot. No frills, no cliches, no fancy stuff and no feel good made up goody things – just street cops on duty. Well done 19-2, I was hooked from the fist 5 minutes onwards. The show has been renewed for a second season of 10 episodes but I want a longer season.

Vishu – Spring Equinox

Vishu is traditionally celebrated as a New Year in the Malayalam Calendar, and the day is often considered as the first day of the Zodiac Calendar. However, if the equinox occurs after dawn on the first day of the zodiac calendar, then the Vishu celebrations will be on the next day, ie the second day of the calendar. In 2014, first day of the calendar falls on 14 April but the equinox occurs after 7am. Therefore Vishu will be celebrated on 15th April 2014. The Vishu Kani is meant to bring luck and prosperity for the year starting from Vishu Day Medam 1st. As Vishu marked the first day of the Malayalam Zodiac, it is considered an appropriate time to offer oblations to Hindu gods.

Ofcourse I’d be giving the gods the finger instead, if they existed. Anyways, I don’t hold any of the religious views or anything like that. I like that it’s another holiday, another new year for this culture. As a kid I liked the fact that we, my cousins & I, got money from our elders and that means buying cassette tapes or going to the movie or go get some junk food like burgers and shakes. And the sadya! Yes, I rarely go to weddings or other functions anymore so for the past 10 years or so sadyas for me are restricted to Onam & Vishu sadyas – so just twice a year. And I look forward to them.

I prefer a simple sadya; rice, kalan, sambhar, maybe some olan, cabbage thoran, some pickle and pulliserri, poppadoms and finally semia payasam. That’s it! No 100 curries or stuff, just the simplest stuff. And then I’d be so full that I’d have to lie down.