Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge, Mark O’Brien and Jonathan Tucker co-star in the gritty crime drama City on a Hill. Picture: Supplied
Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge, Mark O’Brien and Jonathan Tucker co-star in the gritty crime drama City on a Hill. Picture: Supplied

'City on a Hill' explores corruption-plagued Boston

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Aug 17, 2019

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Hollywood pulled out the big guns for "City on a Hill". This new crime drama series, which is something along the lines of "The Sopranos" meets "The Shield", recently debuted on M-Net.

I couldn’t help feeling a little giddy with excitement looking at the names attached to the show - especially with the executive producer credits including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Barry Levinson.

And Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge, Mark O’Brien, Jill Hennessy and Jonathan Tucker are at the helm with Sarah Shahi and Gloria Reuben as recurring cast members.

The first episode started with the aftermath of a wrongful arrest.

In October 1989, Charles “Chuck” Stuart killed his wife, wounded himself and pinned the crime on a black person. Going by his statement, the Boston Police Department eventually arrested someone for the murder. However, it was done on the back of much coercion.

The case fell apart when Stuart’s brother, racked with guilt, came clean about the real perpetrator shortly before committing suicide.

"City on a Hill" explores Boston in the early 90s. The city is plagued by crime, corruption and tribalism. And one idealistic District Attorney - Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) - is determined to root out criminal elements and clean up the city.

He zeroes in on a group of brazen cash-intransit robbers from Charlestown and enlists the help of FBI agent Jackie Rohr. Now Jackie, while he is idolised by his peers, is no poster boy for law enforcement. He leads a debauched lifestyle and generally prefers to operate outside the line.

That said, he has his ear to the ground with plenty of useful informants at his beck and call. Simply put, he is the devil you would rather have in your corner and Decourcy knows that all too well. The case triggers much mayhem and goes on to ruffle many feathers at the top.

City on a Hill is beautifully shot. The crime drama is underpinned by racial tensions and explores agenda driven alliances amid systematic cover-ups and the vexing spinelessness of certain individuals.

The writers up the ante with several curveballs. It’s riveting viewing but you will need to be patient as there are many story threads in play and the writers enjoy dwelling on each character for a little longer.

Meanwhile, "The Good Fight" is back for a third instalment. And it opened on a very Harvey Weinstein-esque note. With Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart on the cusp of a major rebranding campaign, they uncover a sex scandal involving the late Carl Reddick. 

This doesn’t bode well for them after they shut down a feminist blog that named and shamed men accused of sexual harassment. Being on the wrong side of the #MeToo movement isn’t the kind of PR they need to stay afloat.

Of course, politics always seems to find its way into the storyline. This time it’s through a rather comedic vein with Diane jumping to conclusions over her hubby’s comings and goings.

By the way, if you were a fan of "The Good Wife", Archie Panjabi (Kalinda Sharma) is back on the small screen in "Departure", which airs on Universal TV on Monday at 8pm.

"City on a Hill" airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 10pm on Tuesdays and "The Good Fight" is on the same channel on Mondays at 9pm.

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