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Durham County returns. Squirm.

In television on 10/25/2010 at 9:53 am

I admire Durham County because it is a very well put together drama. The turns in this story of a detective and his bloody work and life play against expectation, but not so often that they too become expected. The acting is just enough and not too much. The visual style is all its own.

But I also find Durham County sometimes impossible to watch because it puts all these things to use in the study of very, very disturbing subjects and themes, all hideously, vividly illustrated.

Things like Mike Sweeney (Hugh Dillon) wanting his children to be anything, he tells his new detective, as long as they end up better than he is. Which is a tormented cop. However, when grown daughter Sadie graduates from the police academy and is put to work undercover, he can’t help beaming with pride and telling Sadie how proud he is. And there goes Sadie down the same path as obsessed, violence-deadened daddy.

Speaking of Sadie (the amazing Laurence Leboeuf), she is the embodiment of the twists of victimhood: She strives to get past the horrors she has withstood at the hands of maniac serial killer Ray Praeger, but she does it by … making a life with his son, Ray Jr. (Greyston Holt). That Junior is (or at least appears to be) light to his father’s darkness makes the statement more unsettling. Recovery from trauma is not a straight-forward endeavor and Sadie is the painful example.

Justice is the theme explored by Mike’s new detective Ivan Sujic (Michael Nardone). What has he done? What has happened to him leading up to that? What will he do? The character of Ivan is ruined and yet an extremely good cop. Can he be redeemed?

As the series begins its six-episode arc, Monday at 10 p.m. on HBO Canada and The Movie Network, Mike and wife Audrey (Helene Joy) are happy and Sadie and Ray Jr. are happy. Ivan, an ex-army guy, joins Mike in investigating the gruesome – and this is gruesome even by Durham County standards – murders of two teen drug-runners. But the intensity of their work doesn’t hold Mike and Ivan from socializing a little.

And so the game is put in motion one last time, this being the series’ final season. I hate to watch, but I can’t help it. As I flinch from the violence and hard stories, I must also salute Janis Lundman, Adrienne Mitchell and Laurie Finstad Knizhnik. Next time out, svp,  something that will inspire just as much admiration, but won’t give me nightmares.

Denise Duguay


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