Photo credit: David Holloway
There is a reason "Cops" is one of the longest-running television shows in the nation: people have insatiable appetites for foot chases, fence hopping and shirtless bad guys in cuffs.
But Wednesday night, yet another Boston reality series promises to bring viewers more than the typical day of an on-duty police officer.
"Boston's Finest," a docudrama produced by Dorchester native Donnie Wahlberg, takes an "up-close and very personal" look at officers in one of the oldest police departments in the nation, the Boston Police Department.
The unscripted series follows officers, both on and off the job, a distinction that cast member Sgt. Robert Twitchell calls a "breakthrough."
Coincidentally, Twitchell was featured on "Cops" when he was a gang unit patrolman in the 1990s.
"The difference is that the 'Cops' crew never came home with us," Twitchell said. "People never knew what we were like off the job. ("Boston's Finest") shows that we are regular human beings. We have feelings and families, ups and downs."
Photo credit: Antonio Balfo
When officers learned they were going to be trailed by cameras, skepticism quickly gave way to trust.
"We get beat up by the media a lot, and I think they misconstrue us as well. So when (the camera crew) showed up, everyone had their guard up. We thought, 'Are they here to hurt us? Or make us look bad?... They had to gain our trust," Twitchell said.
By the third day of filming, most officers said they hardly noticed the cameras, but having a production crew tag along during potentially dangerous calls was daunting.
"In the back of your mind, you're thinking, 'I not only have to protect the victims and the community, but a camera crew as well.' It was just another element to consider," he said.
The show will debut at 9 p.m. tonight on TNT.
Watch a promo video of "Boston's Finest" featuring a song by the Dropkick Murphys:
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