Readers beware. There's a contagion and it's spreading.
At first I thought only TV executives in the U.S. were affected. The canceling of great shows after just one or two seasons (Freaks and Geeks, Wonderfalls, Firefly...etc.) was a clear indication that America had been overrun by some brain wasting menace. Sadly, I've come to learn that our northern neighbors have been infected as well.
In March of 2008, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) announced that the clever crime series Intelligence would be canceled after its second season. Noooooo! The decision-makers at CBC may have lost their minds, but fortunately the purveyors of gripping, character-driven dramas can find comfort in the release of Intelligence on DVD. Check out the review of Intelligence: Season One.
Intelligence: Season Two centers on the precarious undercover alliance between a drug lord who's trying to go legit (Jimmy Reardon, played by Ian Tracey) and the ambitious head the Canada's west coast intelligence service (Mary Spalding, played by Klea Scott). Whereas its predecessor focuses largely on the competition within Vancouver's underworld, Season Two provides a sea-change, as rival gangs join together to oppose an American-backed organization seeking to take over Vancouver's illegal drug trade.
Series creator/writer/producer Chris Haddock (Di Vinci's Inquest, and Di Vinci's City Hall) has created substantive characters that draw viewers in and adrenaline-laced storylines that keep them on the edge of their seats. Though Season Two does suffer from a few unrealistic plot twists that generate a fair share of sighs and eye-rolling, the writing is generally strong and the acting so sublime that it's easy to forgive the missteps.
The casting of Season Two is superb. Tracey and Scott give outstanding performances and are supported by a cadre of actors expert in their craft. Standouts include: from Jimmy Reardon's posse - strip club owner and business partner Ronnie (played by John Cassini), chief lieutenant and down-to-earth henchman Bob (played by Darcie Laurie), histrionic and cocaine-addicted ex-wife Francine (played by Camille Sullivan), and from Mary Spalding's camp - alcoholic, backstabbing director of Vancouver's organized crime unit Ted (played by Matt Frewer) and the prostitute-frequenting agent Martin (played by Eugene Lipinski).
It's been rumored that the CBC cancelled Intelligence because the show was perceived as anti-American. The depictions of rouge elements within the CIA and DEA aren't complimentary, and may rile the über-patriotic south of the 49th parallel. However, there is plenty of vitriol to go around, with Haddock shinning a light on corruption in Vancouver and Ottawa as well.
This 4-disc release from Acorn Media consists of 12 episodes and runs for approximately 540 minutes.
Intelligence: Season Two is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for widescreen. The image appears a bit grainy and soft with very minor aliasing, but is generally adequate.
The audio track is provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, and sounds dynamic. The soundtrack by composer Schaun Tozer is riveting and perfectly accentuates the gritty nature of this series. Another treat is the fabulous cover of Joe Higgs' Steppin' Razor.
The extras include behind the scenes material, character biographies, cast filmographies, a biography of Chris Haddock, and the recording of Steppin' Razor interspersed with clips from the series. I enjoyed the interviews with Haddock, but lament the absence of cast interviews and commentary tracks.
It's a crime that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cancelled this Gemini Award (Canada's equivalent to the Emmys) winning series with its tight storytelling and fantastic performances. Although the first season is stronger, Intelligence: Season Two is sure to please fans of intelligence agency/drug underworld dramas.