CITY ON A HILL” ON SHOWTIME

CITY ON A HILL” ON SHOWTIME

In the early 1990s, Boston was rife with violent criminals emboldened by local law enforcement agencies in which corruption and racism was the norm (and racism may still be a vexing issue in this supposedly enlightened city according to the Boston Globe’s reporting).

The ten-episode series of “City on a Hill” running on Showtime creates a fictional account of African-American Assistant D.A. Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) driving change during a tumultuous time in an unwelcoming city.

More than anything, it’s not surprising that this series, executive produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck among others, bears familiarity to Boston crime movies such as “The Departed,” with Damon as a career criminal, and “The Town” directed by Affleck.

Coming from Brooklyn and a stranger to the ways of Beantown, Decourcy forms an unlikely alliance with corrupt yet venerated FBI veteran agent Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) who has the morals of an alley cat.

Ordinarily, the uncouth, brash Jackie, who snorts coke and cheats on his wife, and the straight-arrow, principled Decourcy would not work well together, and at first Jackie is scornful of a black prosecutor.

Kevin Bacon as Jackie Rhodes, Aldis Hodge as Decourcy Ward, Mark O’Brien as Jimmy Ryan and Jonathan Tucker as Frankie Ryan in CITY ON A HILL. Photo: Eric Ogden/SHOWTIME

But then, Jackie is contemptuous of just about everybody on either side of law, which is evident when he inserts himself into the thick of an investigation of armored car robbers from Charlestown, a working-class Irish community.

The two lawmen, whose lives are further complicated by conflict with their wives, are on a path that should lead them eventually to the gang of robbers led by Frankie Ryan (Jonathan Tucker), who is incongruously a devoted family man with a day job at a local supermarket.

City on a Hill,” based on the first three episodes made available for review, looks promising for a gritty crime drama where the characters, even the secondary ones, stand out as fascinating for their troublesome prejudices, shortcomings and conflicts.