'Copper': BBC America's period crime drama is the anti-'CSI'

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franka-potente-tom-weston-jones-copper.jpg "Copper," BBC America's first original scripted series, is a police procedural -- but that's where its similarities to shows like "Law & Order" and "CSI" end.

"It is the anti-'CSI'" insists its Emmy-winning showrunner Tom Fontana.

For the police detectives in "Copper," set in New York's notorious Five Points neighborhood just after the Civil War, "there is no DNA, no machines," Fontana adds. "It's all about detectives using their minds and assessing situations."

"It's fun to have to be able to do detective stuff without relying on current information. I love the fact that we're doing a series where there's no cell phones."

Barry Levinson, Fontana's co-executive producer and longtime collaborator ("Homicide: Life on the Street"; "Oz"), says, "They were stumbling in the dark way back when and beginning to understand what applied to police procedural work. That's fun in the context of our storytelling and world we're involved in."

The "Copper" detectives' de facto coroner is "bringing in this sort of new scientific info, but it's all untested and not even believed," Fontana says. "To a lot of cops, it's scientific nonsense."

When a reporter jokingly asked whether one of those cops would be played by Richard Belzer -- whose prolific detective John Munch has appeared on "Homicide," "Law & Order" and even "Arrested Development" -- Levinson laughed.

"Believe me, Richard Belzer's called," he said.

"Copper" debuts -- without Richard Belzer -- Sunday, Aug. 19 at 10 p.m. on BBC America.
Photo/Video credit: BBC America