TORONTO – In a TV world teeming with police dramas, the slick Canadian cop series “Flashpoint” consistently manages to stand out, netting high ratings and kudos on both sides of the border.
Last season, the Toronto-shot series — which airs on CBS in the U.S. — averaged 1.8 million viewers on CTV, according to BBM Canada. Season 3, kicking off Friday, looks just as promising after a recent sneak peek landed 1.3 million viewers in Canada.
Series star Enrico Colantoni says he thinks the show is a hit, in part, because it delivers a positive portrayal of its police force.
“The biggest compliment I’ll get is when a policeman comes up to me and covertly shows me his badge when they’re off-duty and says, ‘thank you,’ and I get that more often than not because of how we do everything,” he said in a recent phone interview.
While many TV police dramas are about the “underbelly of the police force,” Colantoni says “Flashpoint” stands apart because it depicts officers who actually care about the job.
“Law enforcement (officers) are misrepresented so often on TV,” he said.
Colantoni should know. His older brother was a cop for 30 years and even once threw him behind bars, albeit very briefly, as a joke.
“He sort of did it on a whim but it was enough,” said Colantoni, a Toronto native. “He left me in there for a few seconds. I got the idea.”
Colantoni’s brother also advised him on how to play his composed character, Sgt. Gregory Parker, who leads members of an elite tactical police unit in Toronto.
In the Season 3 premiere, Greg negotiates with an estranged mother (Kelly Rowan) who has abducted her two children. He relates to her because he, too, is an estranged parent to his son.
Colantoni is also a real-life dad to 13-year-old Quintin, who stars in the upcoming mockumentary series “The Yard” for The Movie Network and Movie Central.
“It’s a little crazy being the stage dad,” Colantoni, 47, said in a recent interview from the set of his son’s show.
“Because you just want to go in there and say, ‘That was a bad take, can you do it again?’ and they’d be like, ‘Shut up, stage dad! It’s not your place.'”
Colantoni wasn’t sure he wanted to be an actor so early in life.
In fact, his parents wanted him to be a priest until he went to the University of Toronto and later moved to Connecticut to study at the Yale School of Drama.
His theology knowledge served him well at Yale, he said jokingly.
“I knew how to ground all those heathen actors.”
And he knew how to land quality gigs.
Colantoni’s resume includes loads of hit series, including the David Spade sitcom “Just Shoot Me,” where he played a womanizing photographer, and the lauded series “Veronica Mars,” in which he co-starred as the supportive dad.
He doesn’t take credit for his success, though, instead pointing to good fortune at the start of his career in New York.
“I just got out of Yale and I needed to pay my rent and I didn’t have any money and in the 11th hour I booked three days on a soap opera that allowed me to get through the month,” he recalled.
“There’s this perpetual spirit I call the actor warrior — I’m telling you, man — and it’s, like, it’s been working for me for years and years and years because I’ve never had to make a conscious choice of one job versus another job; one always leads to the other and you just kind of go with the flow.”
With “Flashpoint,” he’s been able to work in his home city for three years straight now and has re-connected with the priorities he had when he first entered show business.
“Coming back to Toronto reminds me of why I wanted to act in the first place,” he said.
“You lose sight of the things that you chose to do consciously 30 years earlier, you know. You forget that ‘I left home because I wanted to be an actor,’ and the sacrifices you made.
“And then you start to work and then you start to make money and people start looking at you differently — and then you start doing things based on money and not your voice and why you wanted to do it.”