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Intelligence, Season One

Four discs; Acorn Media; $59.99

By Michael S. Gant

In the 14 episodes of the first season (2006–07) of the Canadian drama Intelligence, big-time drug dealer Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey) makes a deal with Mary Spalding (Klea Scott), the head of the Organized Crime Unit in Vancouver. They both need tips that can help them keep their positions of authority. Backbiting abounds on both sides of the law. Jimmy's enemies range from home-grown bikers known as the Disciples to a weed-wholesaling Vietnamese gang; Mary's promotion to a national position in the intelligence services is threatened by conniving supervisors and two-timing underlings. But through it all, a refreshing Canadian sense of good manners restrains the bloodier urges. When Jimmy learns that two lower-rung flunkies have screwed the pooch, he doesn't have them killed—he asks for a lie-detector test, just to be sure that they really are guilty. For that matter, the police and government types behave much worse than the criminals, even striking under-the-table deals with the American CIA and DEA, the sin of sins. The action is brisk if occasionally baffling; no one, but no one, can be trusted, which makes paying close attention essential. Tracey makes for a sympathetic, overstressed crook, with a psycho ex-wife, a legitimate lumber business to run, a dim-bulb brother who makes Bob and Doug McKenzie of SCTV's "Great White North" skit look like McNeil and Lehrer, and squabbling pole dancers in need of placating at his nightclub. Matt Frewer, who played that original avatar of the Internet, Max Headroom, puts his skeletal cranium and thin lips to good use as Mary's main bureaucratic Iago. There are some extras about the characters and making of the show.

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