The second season of BBC America's Copper (Sundays, 10/9c) is set in 1865 New York. With the Civil War drawing to a close, Irish immigrant police detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) must deal with upheaval in the gritty Five Points slum as well as overall changes in the city. Copper executive producer and showrunner Thomas Kelly has chronicled New York history for years — his 2005 novel, Empire Rising, centered on the construction of the Empire State Building, and his TV credits include the New York-set Blue Bloods and The Black Donnellys. Kelly explains why Copper shines.
TV Guide Magazine: I have time to watch one more show. Why should it be yours?
Tom Kelly: It's a great way to spend a summer Sunday night. Pour yourself a drink and tune in.
TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching?
Kelly: Everybody who cares about history, good storytelling or riveting television.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch your show?
Kelly: We send Buzzie Burke to have dinner with you. (Watch the premiere episode of Season 2.)
TV Guide Magazine: Give us an equation for Copper.
Kelly: The French Connection plus a Jimmy Cagney gangster film plus The Age of Innocence minus a decade divided by The Best Years of Our Lives.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about your show?
Kelly: My grandmother sent an email telling me she thinks it's terrific — and then she asked if she could be an extra (but not in the whorehouse).
TV Guide Magazine: What's the worst thing?
Kelly: I have yet to hear or read a bad word, but that's because I am new to the show. Everyone has an opinion — and social media accounts — so I am sure I will hear all sorts of things.
TV Guide Magazine: Who was right?
Kelly: My grandmother is always correct.
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title for your show?
Kelly: Once Upon a Time in New York
TV Guide Magazine: Come up with a premise for the spin-off.
Kelly: Doctor Mathew Freeman and his wife start a hospital for the afflicted in New York that treats all races and classes of people.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us something about your amazing cast.
Kelly: They are all terrific and talented actors who come to work prepared and are game for anything we throw at them. By far the best cast I have ever worked with.
TV Guide Magazine: If you weren't producing this show, what series would you most like to be an executive producer on?
Kelly: Homeland or Game of Thrones or Duck Dynasty.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's scare the network. Tell us an idea that didn't make it to the screen.
Kelly: Our lead gets shot and killed in a bar room brawl.
TV Guide Magazine: With what show would you like to do a crossover episode?
Kelly: One of our characters can show up as an 80-year-old bootlegger in Boardwalk Empire.
TV Guide Magazine: How will your show change the face of TV as we know it?
Kelly: It will prove that period drama rooted in history and shot on a stage can be richly detailed and involving.