When you think of Canada, do you think of Ryan Reynolds, Hockey, Rush, and Tim Horton’s? Or do you instead think of the amazing Canadian television series that have made it to America via streaming over the last decade? If you haven’t, check out Flashpoint on Paramount+, which features the original Pink Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson, as part of an elite SWAT unit.
Flashpoint ran for 75 episodes throughout five seasons from 2008 through 2012. Amazingly, in not one was the word “flashpoint” ever actually said. Over the span of the series, viewers got to follow along with the elite unit that handled everything from snipers to hostage negotiations and even bombings.
The majority of the episodes will feature a side story centered on one or two members of the team, and then dealing with the crisis situation of the week will take up much of the runtime. What separates Flashpoint from other procedurals is it takes a very real look at the toll that the high-stress job has on the team. At some point, everyone deals with PTSD and various trauma responses, from developing the “shakes” to jumping at loud noises.
Originally a two-hour television movie, Critical Incident impressed CTV so much that it became a full-fledged series. The only major change when Flashpoint became a series was the change of Amy Jo Johnson’s character becoming Jules from Kate Travers, and Mark Taylor’s Lewis was Robert “Shakes” Boneyman.
In addition to being Amy Jo Johnson’s highest profile role after leaving Power Rangers (arguably could be Felicity), Flashpoint was the chance for two of television’s most underrated character actors to become series leads. Hugh Dillon, the lead singer for Canadian rock band Headstones, played Sergeant Ed Lane, second-in-command of the team, and eventually, he’d go on to have a part in The Expanse and even Yellowstone (Taylor Sheridan was his acting coach on Flashpoint according to an interview with TV Insider) as Sherrif Haskill. The team lead, Sergeant Gregory Parker, was played by Enrico Colantoni, famous for playing Veronica Mars’s dad, Elliot, the photographer from Just Shoot Me, and later, a memorable episode of Person of Interest.
Rounding out the cast are David Paetkau as the rookie, Sam, Sergio Di Zio as Michaelangelo Scarletti the demolitions expert, Michael Cram as “Wordy,” and Tattiawna Jones as Winnie, the police dispatcher. There are others that come and go, including Amy Jo Johnson’s replacement, Jessica Steen as Donna, for when Jules was injured by a sniper’s bullet (that just happened to coincide with the former Power Ranger’s pregnancy).
Within a few episodes, you get used to the way that the team handles assignments and can quickly figure out everyone’s expertise. Colantoni’s performance as Sgt. Parker is the stand-out, taking the lead in negotiations and trying to save everyone no matter the situation. Not all the criminals in Flashpoint are killers and thieves; most are regular people having the worst day of their lives.
Along those lines, Season 2, Episode 12, “Last Dance,” is a standout example of how Flashpoint will twist its own formula. The episode is about a Bonnie and Clyde couple on the run, but the team has to wrestle with their morals during the lengthy pursuit. But one of the hardest to watch is, oddly, the previous episode in Season 2, “Perfect Storm,” about a school shooter situation that escalates when a well-meaning relative gets involved.
During its run, Flashpoint aired on CBS in the United States. Still, the network constantly moved around its night and time slot, going from Fridays to Thursdays and even delaying entire seasons until almost a year after the original Candian airdate.
Due to the network interference, the series struggled to find an audience despite decent reviews from critics. Netflix picked up the series alongside its other CTV standouts, Continuum, Travelers, Bitten, and Lost Girl, but over the years, it bounced between services.
Now available on Paramount+, Flashpoint is one of the best procedurals that never caught on in America. It can be hard to binge more than a few episodes at a time because of the high tension, but it’s rewarding and perfect to fill in the time while waiting for the SAG-AFTRA strike to be resolved so that NCIS can come back.