61st Street
61st Street
The start of it all

61st Street: Run for your life

Riley Riley

In the space of a few seconds, Moses Johnson turns from promising young athlete to a hunted murderer.

A black man from the wrong side of the street, he is accused of killing a cop and the police are out to get him — one way or another.

Moses is innocent, mostly anyway.

He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But the odds are stacked against him as police and prosecutors seek revenge for the death of one of their own in what is the notoriously corrupt Chicago criminal justice system.

61st Street stars Tosin Cole as Moses Johnson, star of Dr Who, The Cut and EastEnders:E20.

Cole’s breakthrough came in 2010 when he cast in the BBC teen drama The Cut (2009) as Noah Achebe.

The real star of the show, however, is his lawyer, Franklin Roberts, played by Courtney B. Vance.

A graduate of Yale Drama school, the Tony and Emmy award-winning actor has distinguished himself in a long career, most notably for for his stunning portrayal of Johnnie Cochran in the series The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.

As always, Vance is terrific.

This time around he plays a public defender fighting for social justice, a role he has played in various guises throughout his career. 

61st Street was created by Peter Moffat, creator of the 2020 series Your Honor, as well as Silk (2011), Criminal Justice (2008) and North Square (2000).

If you liked Your Honour, you’re going to want to see this one.

As one person puts it: “I live in NYC. I’ve seen cops pull the routines described in this show time and time again for decades.

“This show is nailing it when it comes to illustrating the truth.”

In 61st Street we find Roberts sick and obviously struggling.

He continually turns up late to court, forced to hurried, last minute visits to the toilet.

No prizes for guessing what’s wrong when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Married with an autistic son, Roberts is given 18 months to live . . . at best.

It’s a powerful story, but has been dismissed by some as a little too black and white (forgive the pun).

One thing’s for sure. 61st Street is TV drama at its best, with some excellent performances.

Holt McCallany stands out as Lieutenant Brannigan, the evil and manipulative police play maker. 

Interestingly, with Season 2 already shot and in the can, AMC decided to drop the series as part of cost-cutting measures announced in December, 2022.

Then, in May 2023, the series was acquired by CW and went to air in July this year.

You can catch 61st Street on Stan.


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Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

61st Street is TV drama at its best.


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