The second season return 19-2 on Monday night features a continuous tracking shot that sets the tone for a series that already set a high bar for drama in Season 1. “School,” directed by Podz, who helmed the episode for the original Radio Canada series, captured over 10 minutes of stunning, shocking television in a continual shot, following officers Ben Chartier (Jared Keeso), Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes) and the members of their squad as they track down a shooter loose in a Montreal high school.
Ben and Nick go from the front office area through the cafeteria as bullets fly and students flee around them. The camera continues to a wall of windows to show a squadron of police cars arriving while frightened students weep against walls and pillars, praying they survive. It’s the most dramatic episode of 19-2 so far, a big deal considering cop Audrey Pouliot (Laurence Leboeuf) was beaten to the brink of death by a group of thugs in Season 1.
Monday’s return also marks a new direction for the Canadian Screen Award-nominated Bravo series. There is the overarching theme of Ben being asked to spy on his partner, Nick, who is suspected of being a mole by the Sécurité du Québec (SQ)—a theme explored in the French series too—but it won’t follow the same trail to get there.
“We get to the same place, but we get there in a very different way,” says executive producer, showrunner and writer Bruce M. Smith (Cracked, Durham County) during an on-location press junket in Montreal last August. “We did that not because we didn’t like what the French did, but because of who our cast was and how they had developed over Season 1. They had become quite different people from their French counterparts.”
Smith is a huge fan of the original 19-2, and likens Bravo’s take to NBC’s version of the British smash comedy The Office; they were given a lot of liberty to make it different organic being based on the same DNA. Benz Antoine (Blue Murder), Smith explains, plays Officer Tyler Joseph in both versions of 19-2, but they’re very different characters. Speaking of writing, the room has expanded for Season 2 as well. First season scribes Smith and Jesse McKeown (Republic of Doyle) have been joined by Damon Vignale (Blackstone) and Nikolijne Troubetzkoy (Call Me Fitz), a four-person luxury Smith says is alien in Quebec where writers pen their scripts at home alone and then bring them to set for filming. Lynne Kamm has kept things realistic on 19-2, serving as a liaison between real police and the show, which has entailed dozens of ride-alongs.
Smith says he expects there to be a lot of talk among viewers following Monday’s return broadcast—there are many, many casualties in “School” and the overall story mirrors recent events around the world—but Bravo has stuck by the producers since Day 1.
“We see this as a cable show, and they have encouraged us to go there with the content,” Smith says. “We are, at times, much more realistic and darker, and we show these characters warts and all.”
19-2 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo. The season premiere will air commercial-free on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.