Flashpoint is the best cop show you’re not watching

Flashpoint season five cast photo

Canadian favorite ‘Flashpoint’ is coming to a close, but why didn’t audiences in the United States ever get into the show as much as our brothers to the north?


In the three-or-so years I’ve been working for CliqueClack, I’ve started a post about Flashpoint four different times. It is a show I like a great deal, but I’ve created a variety of excuses for not wanting to write about it. Considering just how great the show has gotten in its final two seasons (the first part of the series finale airs this week in Canada), it’s a crying shame that the show never found a greater audience in the States. If you’ve missed out, it is definitely a show to circle back around to (it is available on Netflix); American fans of the show are in for a great couple of episodes as the series comes to a close.

It’s a crying shame that the show never found a greater audience in the States.

For those unfamiliar with Flashpoint, the show follows the exploits of Team One of Toronto’s fictional Strategic Response Unit, based on the city’s real Emergency Task Force – SWAT for American audiences. Each episode beings in medias res, showing the “flashpoint” of an incident, where guns are usually out and sighted and tension is at its highest. The show then flashes back to the past, showing the steps that lead the team and the subjects up to that crucial moment.

Flashpoint is filmed and produced in Canada, and originally aired as a joint production between CTV and CBS. The history of when – and how – the show aired in the States likely has a lot to do with the show’s challenges at catching on here. CBS primarily used the show as a midseason replacement – for filing the holes created by cancelled shows – and split blocks of episodes into different years. As a result, some of the season-long arcs were spread out across multiple “seasons” in the States instead of they were originally conceived and aired in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, Flashpoint is far from a heavily serialized story, but there have been story elements and thematic elements that have been disrupted because of the way CBS aired the show.

Seasons four and five – or perhaps some of three … or some of four … it does get a bit confusing – have aired on ION in the States. It’s likely just coincidental, but in these two years the show has gone from being good to great. In both years there was a greater focus on two similar serialized story arcs. In season four, team leader Greg Parker (Veronica Mars’ always outstanding Enrico Colantoni) experienced a crisis of confidence in his ability to make critical decisions and lead a team. As Team One’s primary negotiator, such a challenge leads to big problems for the team. The arc also coincided with a recurring role for Victor Garber as the psychologist assigned to evaluate Team One – and Parker – and determine if they were fit for duty.

Flashpoint’s final season has raised the stakes even higher. In the season premiere, Parker’s second and the team’s tactical leader Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon) is forced to shoot a young woman who had been their protectee until she pulled a gun on her abusive father. His actions were terrible, but they were following procedure. His actions have haunted him ever since, showing audiences the high level of emotional trauma that police officers go through.

The focus these last two seasons has been on the long-term effect the job has on the cops that are often asked the most of. There’s been a great deal of attention in the media recently — thankfully so — on the challenges that service members face when returning from war. Flashpoint has crafted several stories reminding us that post-traumatic stress comes in more than one flavor.

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Photo Credit: ION/CTV

5 Comments on “Flashpoint is the best cop show you’re not watching

  1. Flashpoint is one of the best cop shows I have seen. I started watching reruns on ION then found it on NETFLIX instant watch and watch all 4 seasons leading up to the 5th season being shown on ION. I was a little pissed off at ION when after s5, e5 I believe they showed S5, E10 next. WTF!!! well tonight they are back to E7, so what the heck happened to E6??? I am not sure if I should watch 10 and hope for 6 to be shown soon or skip E10 and watch E7 ???? I DVR the show since it plays at 11pm here and sometimes I missed the live showing… Thanks for any coverage you give this great show.

    • I was really surprised when I first heard that they were ending the show. I find that every episode has been unique and somehow after 5 seasons, they were able to keep the level of intensity at a 10. This goes down as a classic.

      • I love reading people get so excited about a Canadian show, about and shot in Toronto. It was one of the better cop shows on TV.

  2. Flashpoint has been by far the best Canadian show ever made and I would argue that it is far better than most prime time shows in the U.S. The one thing I’ve appreciated about Flashpoint is the realistic intensity that they are able to produce, while at the same time, not lacing the show with unneeded profanity and vulgarity that seems to come out in many shows by about the second or third seasons. This show goes down as an absolute classic and worthy to be seen by anyone who loves a fantastic high quality plot. If you have never seen it, I implore you to go back to season one and watch every episode. By the time you get to the 2nd or 3rd season, you’ll be absolutely hooked.