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Sunday 8 April 2001

Police drama has fresh feel


Montreal Gazette - April 8, 2001

For a television movie built on a predictable formula, Chasing Cain, which airs tonight
on CBMT-6, has a surprisingly fresh feel to it, at least in the early going, when
scenes are set and characters revealed.

And while the publicity hype is overly ambitious - trying to evoke comparisons with Prime
Suspect - it is a cut above the run-of-the-mill homegrown police drama.

For starters, Chasing Cain, the first in a series from producer Bernard Zukerman and
Salter Street Films that will feature the same cast of regulars, doesn't try to copy
gun-slinging, wise-cracking American tough guys.

Peter Outerbridge stars as Bob Kazlowski, a shrewd veteran of Toronto's homicide squad
who suddenly finds himself landed with a new partner, Denise McGoogan (Alberta
Watson), a single mother who has been promoted from vice after an extended sick
leave. Kazlowski doesn't like it much, but there's no time to go whining to the chief
before the pair are dispatched to the scene of a fatal shooting. Soon they are too
wrapped up in the case, a tangled mess of borrowed from the headlines motives ranging
from anti-abortion activists to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, to do more than
throw the occasional snide crack across their unmarked car.

As Kazlowski and McGoogan, Outerbridge and Watson are smart and slick without being
smarmy, attractive without it appearing to to be a job requirement, capable without
being overbearing or trigger-happy.

Zukerman and writer Andrew Berzins claim to have spent months with detectives, coroners,
crown attorneys and pathologists to make sure the story both looked and felt
authentic. Instead of keeping the details fuzzy, which would have allowed it to pass
for any big city in North America (except here), producers have consciously chosen to city's multicultural flavour.

At times, the film-makers obviously got a bit carried away with this orderly, made-in-
Canada approach to law enforcement. A police chase in which cruisers crawling though
leafy suburbs at the speed limit while a lead detective miles away offers polite tips
over his cellphone, however genuine and responsible, will not set pulses racing.

As often happens in these kinds of mysteries, we're more interested in the central
characters than we are in the necessary, if dreary, plot twists. Future episodes
would do well to focus more energy showing how the detectives interact with suspects
and one another and less on red herrings.

- Chasing Cain airs tonight at 8 on CBMT-6.

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