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British Police Drama Comes to Broadcast Network TV with 'Bulletproof'
August 7, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Police procedurals from other countries, some English-speaking and some not, have become the lifeblood of multiple streaming and cable services these days. 

But now those six or seven remaining Americans who don’t have access to either streaming or cable can sample a fairly typical British cop show on what used to be widely known as free TV.

Free TV. What a concept.

Anyhow, Bulletproof, a six-episode show that aired last year in Britain, launches as a summer series Wednesday (8/7) at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

It’s neither the best nor the worst of this vast genre. It does have a great dog who, unfortunately, makes only a brief appearance. 

Like many cop shows, Bulletproof revolves around a buddy team. Aaron Bishop (Noel Clarke, top) and Ronnie Pike (Ashley Walters, top) work for the British National Crime Agency (NCA) whose mission is to investigate serious, high-level offenses that often involve organized crime. 

Clarke and Walters created the show, along with writer/director Nick Love. Clarke also co-wrote an episode, and it’s clear in every episode that Clarke and Walters are taking this opportunity to have as much fun as possible. 

Bulletproof is the kind of cop show where they’re exchanging wisecracks even when they’re facing a hail of lead, which occasionally makes the transition awkward when something awful happens, and they have to get serious. 

And yes, bad things inevitably happen when you work for a government agency that’s trying to take down dangerous and well-connected criminals. 

Interestingly, the criminal part often has to fight for airtime, because we spend a fair amount of these episodes watching our guys boxing, bantering, debating sandwiches or having a round in the pub.

Fortunately, they’re edgy enough keep us engaged. Pike comes from a well-to-do family with a history of police work. Right now, for instance, his father Ronald Sr. (Clarke Peters) is director-general of the NCA.

Ronald Sr. presides over the family the way a minister might preside over a congregation, and family – blood or extended – plays a major role in Bulletproof.

Ronnie Pike is married to Arjana (Lashana Lynch), and Bishop has a girlfriend, Dr. Sophie Latimer (Emma Rigby, not to be confused with Eleanor Rigby). 

Bishop and Pike also have a close relationship with their boss Sarah Tanner (Lindsey Coulson). She’s the one with the great dog. 

While Bishop and Clarke get along well, as underscored by their constant bickering, Bishop does have a different view of the world. He comes from the streets, though he and Ronnie became best friends very early in their lives. So Bishop sometimes looks at things through a somewhat more suspicious lens, and in the first episode, alas, he runs into a reason for being guarded. 

Some of the dialogue in Bulletproof is so snappy, in keeping with the charged-up side of the characters, that American ears may find it blurs a bit. But we get the essence, and in the end, police procedurals speak a universal language. 

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