City on a Hill

Photograph: Sky
Rating 8.0
Streamers Now, Sky
Seasons 2
Episodes 18 x 60 mins

Recently, we’ve become used to our bent coppers coming with a side of Irish sarcasm, Gogglebox commentary and Twitter storms. But now that season six of Line of Duty is out the way, it’s time to make room for corrupt coppers from across the Atlantic, in this Boston police procedural.

Fans of The Wire are instantly going to see parallels between the cult classic and this 1990s-set show. Led by a moustachioed Kevin Bacon as the cocky, corrupt detective Jackie Rohr, the series explores Boston at its criminal worst, in a time where violence and crime was backed by local law enforcement, who either willingly turned a blind eye or joined in themselves. This style quite suits scumbag Rohr, so, he’s not best pleased when Brooklynite Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) comes on the scene, with his morals and his proper code of conduct. Ward is then thrown into a lonely world as a Black prosecutor, trying to do what’s right in a city that only knows wrong. Yet, he stays determined, joining forces with Rohr and his knowledge of the city’s streets to try and bring down local armed robbery units.

Read our review for The Wire here

Throughout the two seasons, this series deals with subjects like politics and the law, racial tensions, poverty and family, balancing the entertainment value alongside the moral messages. And it does this pretty well, keeping us engaged and invested in this mismatched duo and their mission. It’s also very effective at transporting us to Boston in the 90s, with its accents and grubby streets, thanks to the series’ creator Chuck MacLean, who had the executive backing of fellow Bostonians Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

However, whilst this is a great series that is absolutely worth a watch, we reckon The Wire comparisons may actually be its downfall. Whilst it handles much of the same topics (and in a fairly similar setting), City just can’t quite live up to the utter brilliance of that 2002 hit. So maybe, if you haven’t already, watch that first. Then, if you’re down for another serving of corruption and crime, give this a go.

Reviewing season one, The Guardian’s Euan Ferguson called this “a down, dirty and splendidly realistic modern western,” adding “this is an alarming, raucous tale, told with exuberance and violence; and yet, ultimately, sort of heartwarming. It is also great good fun.” And The Telegraph’s Jasper Rees agreed, calling it “tremendous fun,” saying “As a bloody caper, City on a Hill is a little bit in love with itself, but it kind of knows it so should be forgiven.” And season two has just been more of the same entertaining brilliance, with James Jackson in The Times calling it “good, slick, venal entertainment that, on the evidence of most of the opening episode of series two, is growing ever more comfortable in its skin.”

First shown September 2019. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image or by clicking here.

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