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For a detective investigating a crime, it's always useful to have another set of eyes examine the evidence.

Except, perhaps, when those eyes are located in the same head but are being directed by a different, darker part of the same brain.

From top left, Clé Bennett, Camille Sullivan, Martin Cummins, Karen LeBlanc and Callum Keith Rennie.

CNS VANCOUVER SUN VANCOUVER SUN

From top left, Clé Bennett, Camille Sullivan, Martin Cummins, Karen LeBlanc and Callum Keith Rennie.

Such is the delicate dysfunction afflicting Det. Ben Sullivan (Callum Keith Rennie) the confused cop at the centre of the new Canadian-made cop drama Shattered, which premières Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Global.

Sullivan is a tough, smart, experienced crime solver who does things mostly by the book but occasionally lapses into aggressive and borderline-dangerous behaviours that could just as easily ruin a case as solve one.

And the problem, as quickly becomes clear in the series première, is that when Ben does that crazily out-of-character stuff, it isn't really Ben doing it. It's a long dormant but recently resurfaced alternate personality called Sam, who has picked a stressful time in his host's life to start reasserting himself and taking over ever-larger chunks of Ben's consciousness.

Sunday's opener begins with the arrival of Ben's new partner, Det. Amy Lynch (Camille Sullivan), in the homicide unit. Before she has time to unload her personal belongings, the phone rings and Sullivan asks if she's ready to tackle her first case.

In minutes, the freshly united pair is careening across town to an old warehouse where it's believed a serial killer may be hiding. As they work their way through the dark, abandoned building (a staple location in cop-show pilot episodes, it seems), they encounter the body of the killer's latest victim.

Before they can finish examining the corpse for the telltale markings that will confirm the killer's identity, a figure bolts out of the darkness and attacks Sullivan. As the scuffle escalates, he shouts for his new partner to use her firearm -- and she does, with lethal effect.

But it soon becomes apparent that the suspect didn't have a gun, as Sullivan claimed, and Lynch doesn't understand why he can't recall ordering her to shoot. As the forensics team starts sorting out the details, the investigation starts getting complicated and messy.

While he continues to conceal his issues from his co-workers, Ben confides in his wife (Molly Parker) that Sam has, indeed, returned. Their relationship is already on shaky ground in the wake of their young son's abduction two years earlier, and she isn't sure she'll be able to cope with another descent into multiple-personality hell.

Shattered is an attention-grabber for a couple of reasons -- first, it's well written and employs a cop-show concept that hasn't been seen a thousand times before (unlike Global's other unexpectedly popular summer-launched drama, Rookie Blue), and second, its star delivers a compelling and consistently interesting performance.

Rennie has always been watchable, from his early work in the locally produced 1996 TV movie For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down through his memorable runs in such prime-time titles as DaVinci's Inquest, Californication and 24. And in this starring role, he uses the full weight of his experience and age to create a character filled with contradictions and simmering rage.

The supporting cast, led by Parker, Clé Bennett (The Line) and Martin Cummins (Dark Angel), is solid, but the appeal of Shattered springs directly from Rennie's stellar work. His efforts, and this series' strong start, deserve to be rewarded by a longer-term lease on a prime-time slot.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives Editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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