OK, do you want to see something refreshing and different? If so, then you need to check out BBC America’s newest drama “Copper.” Here’s the background of the series. From Academy Award winner Barry Levinson and Emmy Award winner Tom Fontana, “Copper” is a gripping crime drama series set in 1864 New York City, filled with intrigue, corruption, mystery and murder.

That description wasn’t enough to send me over the edge to seek the program out.

After all, intrigue, corruption, etc. we get that even in our comedies, but setting a drama in 1864, in New York City? In the notorious Five Points district, this I had to see, and now I’m hooked.
Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones, “MI-5?”), an Irish-American former boxer turned cop, returns from the Civil War to find his wife missing and his daughter dead. Corcoran seeks justice for the powerless in the notorious immigrant neighborhood of Five Points.

Bonded by battle to two Civil War compatriots–the wayward son of a wealthy industrialist (Robert Morehouse) and an African American physician who secretly assists the forensic investigations–Corcoran is thrust into the contrasting worlds of elegant and corrupt Fifth Avenue, and the emerging African American community in Northern Manhattan. The three men share a secret from the battlefield that inextricably links their lives forever.

Yeah, that’s right. A brother stars, in a major role, and he’s married. This couple’s story alone is intriguing.

Dr. Matthew Freeman is an African American physician, who was Morehouse’s valet during the Civil War–where he first encountered Corcoran. When called upon, Freeman now assists Corcoran in murder investigations, though he receives no credit for his contribution. Freeman practices modern scientific methods of deduction, but precinct superiors believe this to be Corcoran’s work and he doesn’t tell them otherwise.

Freeman is devoted to his wife Sara whose two brothers were lynched during the Draft Riots.

Anxious to allay her fear of White men, he moves them to the African American community of Carmansville in order to assure her peace of mind.

Sara simply doesn’t like White people; she doesn’t even want them walking on the road in front of her home, so she’s not exactly hospitable to Corcoran when he shows up all hours of the day or night, sometimes with a dead body in tow.

Ato Essandoh (CBS’s “Blue Bloods”) stars as Dr. Freeman. Born in Schenectady, N.Y., to Ghanian parents, Essandoh attended Cornell University as a chemical engineer.

He got the acting bug on a dare, got hooked and decided to study acting. He’s played a variety of roles on film and in television, and we can look for him in Quentin Tarrantino’s upcoming film “Django Unchained,” starring Jamie Foxx.

Tessa Thompson (Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls”) stars as Sara Freeman. A Los Angeles native, Thompson was raised part-time in Brooklyn. She began her acting career on the stage, and has been featured in a number of guest-starring television roles, most notably “Veronica Mars.”

What I like about the storyline of the Black characters is we get to see what kind of life Blacks who weren’t slaves lived. As history tells us, the free Blacks still faced restrictions because of race, but many managed to somehow achieve in the face of great adversity. Case in point, although Dr. Freeman is a brilliant man, he dare not let his light shine too bright, or his light will surely be snuffed out.

“Copper” is BBC America’s first original scripted series, and when it premiered on Sunday, Aug., 19, it became the channel’s highest-rated series premiere ever.

To get to know the show and its wonderful characters, visit the website at www.bbcamerica.com/copper. You can actually take a mugshot and see how you would have looked back in 1864.

“Copper” airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. Check your local listing for the BBCA channel in your area.

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com