I never liked David Morse as an actor; I put him into the same “annoying actor in bad roles” category as Sam Neill. But in the same way that The Dish rescued Neill for me, the new CBS television programme Hack has shown me Morse’s true talents as an actor. It’s a great show, and that’s largely due to Morse and his co-star Andre Braugher.
Braugher, best known for his role in the television version of Homicide: Life of the Street, is a great actor, and he’s at his best when he’s having a conversation. In Homicide his conversation was with Kyle Secor’s Bayliss; in the Bruce Paltrow film Duets it was with Paul Giamatti’s disturbed salesman, and in Hack his partner in conversation is Morse.
The interesting thing about Hack is that it departs from the modern trend for hour-long dramas to be completely self-contained, with no spill-over plot from episode to episode. Think of Law & Order, CSI, NYPD Blue: the idea is that each episode is essentially a world unto itself; presumably the thinking is that if you make it easy for viewers to drop in at any point, they’ll be more likely to watch.
Understanding Hack, however, means following the growth and backsteps of the characters from episode to episode. Morse and Braugher play dirty cops; they dipped into a pool of drug money. Morse is off the force, and disgraced, and Braugher, his former partner, is still working as a cop. They have a complex relationship, and the heart of the show is their conversations at a coffee shop. Each week’s plot revolves around Morse’s life as a cab driver, and the characters he encounters eventually lead him, into conflict with the law.
What’s pleasant is that neither Morse nor Braugher nor the situations they find themselves in are morally clear-cut. The show is not “dirty cop trying to make good,” at least not entirely, and there’s enough moral ambiguity to make the viewer actually think, which is rare.
Hack has been picked up for a full season by CBS; it airs Friday nights, and is broadcast in Canada by Global. Check it out.