HACK with David Morse and Andre Braugher Joins getTV’s Daytime Lineup
Plenty of cop shows over the years have had a gimmick. Singing cops! Alien cop! Zombie cop! But how about a cop show about a disgraced cop?
That’s the premise of Hack, a powerful drama series about a Philadelphia cabbie who fights crime while driving out his own demons. To be clear: Mike Olshansky (David Morse) was a police officer, a sergeant in the narcotics division of the Philly P.D. But, when we meet him in the pilot episode, he’s has been stripped of his badge and is under indictment for skimming cash from a crime scene.
“You walk into a bust and there’s 40 grand on the table, and only 32 gets turned in? Well, that just ain’t the end of the world,” Mike insists to childhood friend Grizz (George Dzundza), a Catholic priest with problems of his own (gambling, booze, a lingering attraction to his high school sweetheart). “In combat situations, you have the right to a little hazard pay once in awhile. You’ve got it coming.”
Internal Affairs didn’t agree, so now Mike’s pulling double shifts on the streets of Philadelphia working for a Chechen taxi dispatcher (Mark Margolis) and looking at jail time. But he can’t get the blue out of his blood, so he uses his cab to find people who need help. He’s part guardian angel, part vigilante, part social worker. But he’s got to do this without a gun, or the knowledge of the people who are trying to lock him up. This is not what a career cop pushing 50 expected from his golden years.
“What else you got?” Mike laments to The Universe.
How about this: his wife Heather (Donna Murphy) threw him out and already has a new boyfriend; his ten-year-old son Michael Jr. (Matthew Borish) hates him and wants to change his name; and his alcoholic father Bill (Brian Smiar) won’t speak to him, disgusted with Mike for betraying three generations of law enforcement tradition.
“To a cop, four grand or a dime, it don’t make a difference,” Mike’s father chides him. “It’s a disgrace.”
But wait. If Mike pocketed only $4,000, what happened to the rest of the missing drug money? That’s where his best friend, and partner of twelve years, Marcellus Washington (Andre Braugher) comes in. But unlike Olshansky, Washington still has his job, his wife, his son, and his pension. So, what really happened the night of the bust? Just how dirty is Marcellus? And will Mike take the fall for both of them? This is the story arc of the the brilliant first season of Hack.
Created by David Koepp (screenwriter of Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man), Hack demands reassessment as one of the unjustly forgotten treasures of the early 2000s. Fifteen years after its debut on CBS, the series has an extraordinarily contemporary vibe. With its gritty, inner-city aesthetic – every episode was shot on the streets of Philadelphia – and morally ambiguous lead characters, Hack often feels more like a premium cable drama than a primetime police procedural. Think The Equalizer meets True Detective (which coincidentally featured David Morse as Rachel McAdams’ hippie father in its second season).
Morse, who himself drove a cab as a young actor in his native Massachusetts, got his big break in 1982 as Dr. “Boomer” Morrison on NBC’s St. Elsewhere, a character who clearly shares DNA with Olshansky. His portrayal evolves over the first season as Mike grows from tightly wound and violent to resigned but hopeful, thanks in part to his new girlfriend, the prophetically named Faith (Bebe Neuwirth, best known as Lilith on Cheers).
The rest of the cast is excellent, as are memorable guest stars like Fisher Stevens, Idris Elba, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis, and John Heard in a Thanksgiving show (Songs in the Night) that is one of the most emotional episodes of primetime TV I’ve seen. But the secret weapon of Hack is Andre Braugher, whom viewers may recognize from Brooklyn Nine-Nine and his Emmy-winning role as Detective Frank Pembleton in Homicide: Life on the Street in the 1990s. The cautious camaraderie that he and Morse share over the first 22 episodes is like a season-long acting class. And you’ll never guess how it turns out.
“You’re not a cop anymore because you thought you could be a good guy and a bad guy at the same time,” a gangster says to Mike early in the series. That’s Hack in a nutshell.
Hack airs weekdays at 3 pm ET/noon PT on getTV, following The Equalizer beginning April 24. The Songs in the Night episode airs Wednesday, May 3.