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18 January 2011, 1:00 pm No Comments

Television: “Brick City” – Back With Vengeance

This post was submitted by Topher Burns

Mayor Cory Booker gives an impassioned speech at a police academy graduation (courtesy sundancechannel.com)

Even if you haven’t seen Sundance Channel’s acclaimed Brick City, you’ve certainly heard of Newark, New Jersey.  Whether you’ve driven by its stark public housing on your way from Manhattan to Ikea, or laughed along with the Newark-Conan O’Brien feud, you are sure to have a few scraps of info in your head that suggest to you that there might be some serious problems with the city.  And yet the city earned its nickname not only because of its architecture but for the enduring strength of its citizens, and this is on full display in the gripping documentary that returns for a second season later this month.

Brick City follows the lives of a number of people across the wide spectrum of the city’s life: charismatic mayor Cory Booker, embattled Police Chief Garry McCarthy, non-active members of rival gangs Jayda and Creep, and gang memoirist Jiwe.  In his review of Brick City’s first season for the Washington Post, Hank Stuever wrote “All you fans of The Wire who went on and on about how real and gripping it was? It’s time to put your DVR where your mouth is and … watch Brick City.”  The parallels between HBO’s scripted hit and this documentary are indeed striking, and both treat the subjects of their shows with immaculate dignity, expressing the deepest plot tensions in stolen moments of quiet honesty.

Brooke consoles Dashaun "Jiwe" Morris (courtesy sundancechannel.com)

A new personality joins the show this season: Brooke Barnett, a firecracker defense attorney who’s getting used to settling down with her new partner Maggie.  She adds a fresh perspective to intermingling plot lines already established in season one, but change is on the horizon for all subjects of the show.  Obama’s presidential election winds up the previous season, and the second season picks up with the sweeping momentum established from such a watershed moment.  On the horizon loom court battles, reelection campaigns, and media frenzies, and each character stands to loose considerably if best-laid plans go awry.

Brick City compellingly transports the viewer to a part of the world where the stakes are higher, where loyalty comes dearly and can carry the heaviest consequences.

Sundance Channel’s Brick City airs every Sunday at 8pm EST, beginning January 30th

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