A wicked big storm is brewing in Showtime’s Boston-based City on a Hill.
Irony abounds within the infamous camaraderie and cooperation between cops, crooks, a city’s corrupt system and an impenetrable code of silence. City on a Hill also turns the spotlight directly on the town’s fever pitch for ‘willful’ segregation, and blind-eyed omerta when acknowledging the rampant racism dismissed as neighborhood locker room talk in a fictitious depiction of boys in blue chasing armored car boosters from Charlestown during the Charles Stuart-era.
It’s not 1983 anymore, and the times have changed, but Kevin Bacon’s character FBI Agent Jackie Rohr hasn’t quite caught up yet. The embittered, hard drinking, coke-snorting, grey area of legal landscape margin walking, part-time concerned father, full-time head-breaking FBI Agent teams up with a morally solid assistant DA looking to clean house in Boston’s legal system from Beacon Hill to Bunker Hill.
“What used to make this city great is that it used to be run by bad men who understood that they were bad,” he tells his inebriated law enforcer friends.
A fairshare of locals offered a helping hand in crafting the cop drama keep it authentic. Thus, the show features a Purity Supreme, cops drinking cups of Doughboy Donuts coffee, a guy in a scally cap scratching Scratch Tickets, a guy from Southie who says he ain’t a rat, and namedrops Lincoln Steffens, Doug Flutie, and “Cadillac” Frank Salemme, the mafia goon who muscled control The Channel in‘92.
Hyde Park native Jere Shea said what started as a part-time role turned into a season regular as Detective Hank Signa.
“This is a masterful group of actors who are either from the area or have played Bostonians before in different roles who bring the level of authenticity that those who were starting from scratch could immediately catch on and embody.”
It also goes without saying that someone from the area probably knew somebody around town who might have known a little bit about something that happened that they didn’t talk about back in the day.
“Growing up in Dot, we knew cops like that,” actor Kevin Chapman told the Dorchester Reporter.
“They weren’t necessarily by-the-book individuals, but they were in-effective in their own dysfunctional way. That’s the way I approached J.R. He’s not going to win awards for procedures and policies, but he gets it done.”
Investigative reporter and author Michele McPhee offered a helping hand, said the entire cast and crew were obsessed with making sure the era was exact with wardrobe, dialogue, set design, props.
“Boston has always been seen by the show creator as one of the main characters in City On A Hill, a living breathing entity,” McPhee said. “The Boston Miracle spawned the community policing model for the BPD that has been duplicated all over the country, making that time and place nationally recognizable.”