Last year I asked if City on a Hill was gunna be good. I liked the idea of the show – a drama centered around Boston cops and criminals in the ’90s – but the trailer didn’t do it for me. And I read about the historical accuracy of it all which also worried me. I watched it regardless. About five minutes into the first episode, “The Night Flynn Sent the Cops on the Ice”, I texted a friend and said that this show was bad. I eye-rolled at every poor accent and stereotypical Boston thing they crammed into the pilot. Not to mention the title of the episode, which is just far too long and a random quote that Kevin Bacon’s character says. When I saw what it was titled, I watched the episode like this, but wayyyy less excited.
Anyways, I decided to stick with it and continued watching. Episode two was much better. And while I won’t break down each episode and what my thoughts were, I will say that overall, the show is fine, at best. The writing could be better, acting could be much better, but you know what needs improvement most? Naming of the episodes! I mean, look at this:
Just brutal. An average of 7.2 words per title! Am I wrong in thinking that episode titles should be 4-5 words max? Take Game of Thrones for example. Its best episodes, arguably, are “The Rains of Castamere”, “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards”. All easily memorable. I find it hard to believe someone will remember that their favorite City on a Hill season 1 episode was “From Injustice Came the Way to Describe Justice”. But maybe that’s just me. (yes, I know that not all TV shows need to have recognizable episode titles, I’m just picking on COAH)
All that being said, I’m taking a stab at naming the episodes in the not-yet-filmed season two. I presume they won’t steer too far from what they did in season 1, with regards to titles often being lines characters say in the episode. So you’ll see that below. Other hypothetical titles might be more of an idea of what’s going on with a character, or in the show as a whole. I’m still winging it though. The only thing I had to go off was from this Boston.com article saying that Season Two will move from Charlestown to Roxbury, and that early episodes will call attention to many “attitudes about race”. It’s important to make known though, that while the show might be inspired by true events and feature references to real-life occurrences, it is ultimately fiction. As are these episode titles…
1. “The Laws of God And Man”
I promise I did not take this title from Game of Thrones
. In fact, I took it from an Irish song called “Boston Burglar
“. And I originally had the lyric “never roam the streets at night breaking the laws of God and man” as the title, but that would revert to what they did in S1 which is exactly what I’m trying to avoid.
2. “There’s No Statue of Bill Russell”
Picture Jackie Rohr saying this to DeCourcy about Boston not honoring one of their greatest athletes. Slightly taken from Tommy Heinsohn once saying about Russell & Boston, “Look, all I know is, the guy… came to Boston and won 11 championships in 13 years, and they named a f—— tunnel after Ted Williams.”
3. “How Much Does He Know?”
The obvious way of looking at this title would be that one character may have seen or heard about a crime, and someone else is wondering just how much this person truly knows. Can they do damage with such information? Will they come forward? Are they fully aware of what they might actually know or do they lack putting pieces together? But for background, the title will really have come from an old Mark Twain quote, “In Boston, they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?” Known for many top-notch universities (Harvard, MIT, UMass Boston, etc.), ‘knowledge’ is a defining quality in Boston.
4. “Product of the Environment”
Pretty self-explanatory. Someone will make note that we are all effected by the community, people and places we are surrounded by.
5. “Noblesse Oblige”
Noblesse oblige is the “inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.” I think this could fit into a situation happening on the show. The people in charge of naming episodes for COAH love the slightly random phrases or quotes.
6. “The Code of Hammurabi”
If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s the set of law that includes “an eye for an eye”. Plus I recently read Hammurabi’s Code by Charles Kenney and that takes place in Boston. They really ought to make a TV show around that book, it was really good.
7. “How Much Is It Worth To You?”
This could be a stolen item, or information being withheld. I came to this quote when a co-worker told me a story of him being mugged by a man in the South End many years ago. A few days later, a woman called him saying that she had found his wallet and they agreed to meet at a certain spot and time to give it back! When he arrived, he received another call from this same woman, this time she asked him “how much is it worth to you?” It was then that he realized she was in cahoots with the guy who had mugged him days before. Never did get his wallet back.
8. “The Third of May”
This is the title of a 19th century painting by Francisco Goya commemorating Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies during the Peninsular War. It focuses on a firing squad and a group of captives being held at gunpoint. I figure some
nerd know-it-all will refer to this painting in trying to make a point with what’s going on in the city. I just don’t know the point they’re making yet.
9. “You Have To Die To Be Born”
Someone’s dying in the penultimate episode. That much I know. But another character is changing their ways drastically, one would almost say they’re being reborn. With every death there comes rebirth, it’s the circle of life
10. “The Final Jewel of the Emerald Necklace”
I’ve lived in Boston my entire life. I’ve never heard of the Emerald Necklace before a few weeks ago. Not sure exactly what that says about me, but now that I do, I kinda like it. If you also had never heard of it, it’s the chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston. And the “final jewel
” of it is Franklin Park which spans across Dorchester, Roxbury and JP. I feel like this is an appropriate title given that Season 2 is supposed to take place in Roxbury and it would be the season finale.