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Television: CBS’ ‘Flashpoint’ Has One Lonely Fan

Being an admirer of the TV series “Flashpoint,” which returns with new episodes on June 4, is a lonely job, especially when CBS doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

With barely a whisper that “Flashpoint” was returning (a repeat of the series opener which aired Memorial Day weekend), CBS scheduled it this week in its usual Friday night death-slot. Or maybe worse. The time is missing from the web site.

I like procedurals, and “Flashpoint” has more procedures than a San Diego County food stamp application. So what, another procedural? Well, this procedural series is not the creation of either Jerry Bruckheimer or Dick Wolf. “Flashpoint” has quite a lot that no “CSI,” “NCIS,” or “Law and Order” off-shoot has: character, heart, and, most remarkably, genuine, breath-holding tension and suspense.

The Strategic Response Unit (based on Toronto’s Emergency Task Force), which rescues hostages, defuses bombs, and leaps tall buildings in a single bound, is full of characters who are mind-bogglingly focused and professional. I want them on my side if somebody takes me hostage in a bank.

They're calm, they're smart, and they're fit, tough and reasonable (they are Canadian, after all). And they're smart enough to be scared. But they also have emotional lives, and they are affected by the job they do and the lives they lead, but in a modest, Canadian way.

The excellent cast includes the very skilled Enrico Colantoni, whom you may remember as a fashion photographer on “Just Shoot Me;” the mesmerizing Hugh Dillon, an actor/singer/songwriter with a long list of Canadian credits; the lone American, Amy Jo Johnson (“Felicity”) and a very good hunky blond named David Paetkau who plays a newbie.

And for me, the cast, much as I like them all, is a big fat problem. Toronto is a lively and robustly diverse city with all sorts of people of color, both native and immigrant. Except, apparently, for the people who talk down panicky hostage-takers.

That caveat aside, when Friday night comes around, I’m there, ready to hold my breath.

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