A rarity in television, the show was shot in Toronto, although the city itself remained unnamed throughout the series. However, in every episode were classic shots of the city, including scenes that took place at Toronto landmarks such as City Hall, the Royal York Hotel (on a couple of occasions), Canada’s Wonderland, and Yonge-Dundas Square.
The first episode actually began with a reenactment of a real-life hostage scene that took place outside of Union Station in the downtown core. The show’s co-writer and co-creator, Stephanie Morgenstern, played the victim in the scene, and did an incredible job of it. We were first introduced to the main cast in this episode, including Enrico Colantoni as Sergeant Greg Parker, Hugh Dillon as Ed Lane, Amy Jo Johnson as Julianna Callaghan, David Paetkau as Sam Braddock, Sergio Di Zio as Michelangelo “Spike” Scarlatti, and Michael Cram as Kevin “Wordy” Wordsworth.
The beauty about Flashpoint is that the writers were never risk-averse; they put the main cast in harm’s way and let some die and others move on in the show because that is how something great evolves. The cast from the first episode was not the exact same as those left in the final one. The show was never too safe, opting for life over death, but tragedy over peace most of the time.
Flashpoint had five incredible seasons, and we can safely say that each had its own merits. The first really set the tone for the camaraderie we’d see in future episodes, while the second and third opened up some more personal stories and the true conflict within the team. The fourth season brought to light even more personal issues while the team’s bonds restrengthened, and the final season wrapped up everything beautifully, though it wasn’t without its conflicts.
Each character had a story woven to take advantage of the actor’s strength. Enrico Colantoni has a very fatherly, disciplinary instinct which contrasts his vulnerability. Hugh Dillon as Ed Lane has a very tough exterior, but his mistakes cost him a lot of his family time, and he ended up being one of the most emotional of the group. Sergio Di Zio as Spike is very much a kid in a candy story with his electronics, but his true-to-life Italian home comes to light much more in the final few seasons. Amy Jo Johnson as Jules Callaghan is tough-as-nails but feminine and respected, while David Paetkau as Sam is cocky and overdone, even though he only really wants to see the best out of himself and others around him.
It’s very easy to praise a show like Flashpoint for doing so many things right. Husband and wife team Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis penned the show in a very careful yet unconsidered way. They wrote character stories first and added the murders and hostage scenes as secondary material, even though they ended up the main story arc of each episode. They focused on character development through the life of the series as opposed to ending one episode and forgetting about it with the next.
We’re sure the show has a few flaws, but we sure as hell couldn’t find them. There are many times where we get emotional during television shows and movies. But Flashpoint was a show that managed to grip us from the first minute of an episode and build up enough connection to each character that we’d cry by the end of almost every one. Whether that was the intention or not, Flashpoint gave us a look into the eyes of police officers, even if only through a tiny lens, and something about the way it was done allowed us to connect.
The music of the series is also nothing to forget about. Flashpoint often featured music from the show’s actors Amy Jo Johnson and Hugh Dillon, as they have their own side projects or vocal careers. The music was always perfectly matched to the episode and often brought the emotional tone of the scene up just enough to make it special.
Every year, some of the cast from Flashpoint make their way to the Tema Heroes Tribute Gala. Enrico Colantoni is the spokesperson for the organization which helps educate the public and emergency service personnel about the suffering behind Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Critical Incident Stress. We’ve been lucky enough to attend the gala on two separate occasions, which we’ve written about here and here.
You can watch all of Flashpoint on CTV.ca’s video viewer, but we definitely recommend picking up the DVDs of the series (the first four seasons are currently available; season five is coming soon).