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Series / Intelligence (2006)

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"It's a complicated world now, eh, Jimmy? People changing sides all the time. You almost need a scorecard to figure who's f—in' who."

A Canadian crime drama, running from 2006 to 2007, which blended elements of Police Procedural, Criminal Procedural, and Spy Fiction. Written and produced by Chris Haddock, the creator of the acclaimed Da Vinci's Inquest, it might best be described as Xanatos: The Series.

Set in Vancouver, the show follows the escapades of Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey), a third-generation crime lord who specializes in smuggling and distributing marijuana throughout Canada and the Northwestern United States, and Mary Spalding (Klea Scott), the ambitious head of the Vancouver Police Department's Organized Crime Unit (OCU), who is eyeing a promotion to director of Asia-Pacific affairs for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada's answer to the CIA. Seeing an opportunity to advance each other's interests, the two form an uneasy truce, with Jimmy serving as Mary's most important new source of gangland intelligence in exchange for protection from criminal prosecution.

But all is not well in Vancouver. Mary's Machiavellian deputy, Ted Altman (Matt Frewer), looking to advance his own standing, conspires against her with CSIS director Roger Deakins (Tom McBeath), the man she is aiming to replace, and eventually decides that the easiest way to undermine her will be to have Jimmy busted by his contacts in the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Jimmy, meanwhile, seems pulled inexorably into open warfare with Dante Ribiso (Fulvio Cecere), the rapacious leader of a local biker gang, just as he has made a risky and expensive investment in a series of ATMs for a money laundering scheme.

Other subplots involve the discovery that a Chinese Triad has planted a mole (Rick Tae) in the OCU and the possibility that the CIA has planted another in CSIS, Jimmy's often futile efforts to deal with his vindictive ex-wife Francine (Camille Sullivan) and well-meaning but incompetent brother Michael (Bernie Coulson), a plot by an American agribusiness to steal Canadian trade secrets, and an arms deal between a fugitive cocaine smuggler (Hugo Ateo), a crooked stockbroker (Bill Mondy) looking to diversify, and a DEA agent (Aaron Pearl) who may or may not have gone rogue.

And that's just the first season.

Despite widespread critical acclaim, culminating in a Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series in 2007, the series was abruptly cancelled after two seasons, amid rumors that it was killed for political reasons over its negative portrayal of American intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and big business.

Not to be confused with the sci-fi drama Intelligence (2014).

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The storyline involving the DEA's arms deal with the Guatemalans goes down the memory hole after the end of Season 1.
  • The Alcoholic: Ted.
  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: A biker gang called the Disciples is a major antagonist. In a bit of a subversion, however, Dante, their leader, looks nothing like a stereotypical biker.
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted about as hard as possible.
  • Amoral Attorney: Jimmy's lawyer actively conspires in both his client's money laundering operations and his flight from justice.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Ted is all but stated to be one.
  • Ate His Gun: Agent Williams.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: Dante owns and operates a poolhall.
  • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Corruption and incompetence are systemic in every single law enforcement agency portrayed, much to Mary's chagrin. The Vancouver Police are riddled with Dirty Cops on the take, CSIS leaks like a sieve, and the DEA are a bunch of criminals with badges.
  • Bald of Evil: Ted and Dante.
  • Becoming the Mask: Martin is originally only working for Mary because she dangles a promotion in front of his nose. By Season 2, he has come to respect her so much that he offers to put his career on the line to protect her.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: When the most sympathetic, least ruthless character in the whole show is a gangster who smuggles and distributes drugs, you might say so.
  • Bounty Hunter: A former CIA agent brought in by Mary to consult for her turns out to be one, and is quite miffed when she refuses to let him collect on a particular bounty until she can identify all of the people the target is dealing with.
  • Butt-Monkey: Michael.
  • Camping a Crapper: The eventual fate of one of the small-time crooks who mugs Michael for the money he is couriering for Jimmy.
  • The Chessmaster: Several, most especially Mary.
  • Chessmaster Sidekick: Agent Williams, who orchestrates a massive sting operation against Jimmy just for Ted's benefit.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Ted is clearly a long-term sufferer.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: The CIA does come off pretty badly. On the other hand, the kneejerk belief that the CIA is evil causes Mary to miss the otherwise obvious conclusion that Jimmy's people killed Richard Royden to protect him from exposure.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jimmy and Michael used to have a sister. She appeared in two episodes, introduced a plot about retrieving old whisky from the bottom of the harbor, and neither her nor the whisky ever appeared again.
  • City of Spies: Who knew Vancouver was such a wretched hive of spies and international criminals?
  • Cleanup Crew: The Triads send one in after killing Detective Lee.
  • Cliffhanger: Each season ends on one. Season 1's was resolved. Season 2...not so much.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Francine, when she's with Jimmy.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: When Jimmy is forced to go on the run in the Season 2 premiere, Michael takes point.
  • Cut Short: Damn you, CBC!
  • Detective Mole: Detective Lee.
  • The Don: Jimmy.
  • The Dragon: Bob, Jimmy's top enforcer, who is ex-Special Forces.
  • Enemy Mine: When American drug dealers start making incursions into Vancouver, Jimmy and the Vietnamese team up with the Disciples, with whom they were on the brink of war a season earlier.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jimmy has a fairly strict code of conduct he expects his people to live by, while Ted finally draws the line at arranging for Jimmy to be gunned down in cold blood.
  • Feed the Mole: A favorite OCU tactic.
  • Front Organisation: The Blackmire Group.
  • Gambit Pileup: There are gambits within gambits, connected to other gambits, with tenuous links to still more gambits.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: One of Jimmy's biggest customers is the head of a gang of Vietnamese emigres.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Jimmy's reason for cooperating with Mary (in addition to occasionally extracting small crumbs of information out of her).
  • The Handler: Martin handles most of Mary's moles, although she runs a few herself.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Roger Deakins, for a given value of "face."
  • Honey Trap: One of Mary's most useful operatives is an escort service madam who helps her run a lot of these.
  • I Have Your Wife: In the pilot, someone tries this on Jimmy using his daughter. Except they grab the wrong girl.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: Quite a few of the tails used, a rare lapse in realism for the show.
  • The Irish Mob: Jimmy and his brother are Irish, although his two top associates have Italian and French surnames. Dylan of season 2 may be a more straight example.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Ted uses it on a gunrunner to learn who his most recent customer was in the series finale.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: An international flavor. One of the series' overarching themes is the proprietary view American agencies like the CIA and DEA take of Canada, treating it as though it were simply the 51st state. Naturally, their Canadian counterparts are displeased by this.
  • Karma Houdini: A wide variety of characters (it's that sort of show), but special mention has to go to Ted.
  • Kavorka Man: Martin, Mary's right-hand man, seems to be very smooth with the ladies, despite being a plain-featured, middle-aged, middle-class, bald, and somewhat portly civil servant.
  • Killer Cop: The DEA agents are mostly portrayed this way.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: In the first episode, Michael is in jail after a drug deal he set up without Jimmy's knowledge goes sour. In typical Michael fashion, this doesn't stop him from setting up another one before he's even gotten out.
  • Mob War: Each season has a major story arc involving Jimmy's attempt to prevent one. In Season 1, the troublemakers are the Disciples. In Season 2, it's a group of American dealers trying to take over.
  • The Mole: Half the cast is a mole for somebody. Some are double- or even triple-agents.
  • Mole in Charge: Richard Royden.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: The Reardons.
  • Only in It for the Money: Mary's ex-CIA consultant.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Disciples are repeatedly described as "bikers," but are never actually shown riding motorcycles.
  • Playing Both Sides: The basic premise of the series.
  • Police Brutality: In the Season 2 premiere, the DEA accidentally shoots their informant, an innocent bystander, and one of their own agents while attempting to kill an unarmed Jimmy. Later, Michael is brutally beaten by the RCMP.
  • Private Detective: Mary hires one to spy on her husband when she suspects he's been cheating on her.
  • Properly Paranoid: Jimmy, full stop.
  • Screw The Rules, I Have Connections!: Mary is able to thumb her nose at her superiors with surprising frequency, because it turns out she has a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee in her corner. Until she doesn't anymore. Oops.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: One of the most cynical you will ever see.
  • Spy Speak: Whenever Jimmy and his people do business over the phone, they always speak as though they were making deals for lumber or boats.
  • The Spymaster: Mary.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Francine, when she's not with Jimmy.
  • The Starscream: Might as well be renamed "The Ted Altman."
  • Suspiciously Idle Officers: Ted seems to have nothing on his plate except plotting Mary's downfall, even though he's the OCU's second-in-command.
  • The Syndicate: In Season 2, Jimmy tries to form one to control all of the marijuana trade in Vancouver, in order to freeze out the American dealers.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: A major subplot of Season 1 involves Mary's discovery that a Triad has planted at least one mole in her unit.
  • Verbal Tic: Spalding's habit of ending orders or requests with "yeah?"
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Richard Royden, big time.
  • White-Collar Crime: In Season 1, a group of American businessmen are conspiring with Chinese diplomats to steal seed patents from a Canadian biotech company. In Season 2, an American conglomerate called the Blackmire Group conspires to illegally rig Canadian parliamentary elections and take over the Canadian water supply (it's kept a little vague).
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: As it turns out, no one.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Mary's chief job skill.