Doing so much high-quality cable TV has left Donal Logue as happy as the Dickens, to borrow an old expression.
"A 13-episode season of a really good cable show is not unlike the way (Charles) Dickens used to write," says Logue, who has joined the cast of Copper. The 1860s-set series makes its second-season debut Sunday on Showcase, and for Logue this comes on top of his other recent cable-TV roles on Sons of Anarchy and Vikings.
"Dickens would just release these serialized parts of a novel - they were like episodes," Logue continues. "They had these dramatic conclusions that weren't the overall conclusion, but left you hanging a little bit. So I've thought, this (current-day dramatic cable TV) is kind of like the new form of novel.
"I love this form of story-telling, one-hour television. And you still have time with a character to grow and change and move and correct. The unexpected can happen, whereas sometimes with films you're so locked into a script and your 32-day shooting schedule or whatever, you can't vary the arc much."
Logue acknowledges there still are good feature films being made, of course.
"But I remember in the '70s going to see All The President's Men in a movie theatre, and today that would just be a super interesting episode of Homeland or The West Wing, or The Sopranos if it were more criminal," Logue says. "There's so much brilliant stuff happening on television."
In Copper, Logue plays an outspoken Tammany Hall associate named General Brendan Donovan, who has returned to the Five Points area of New York from the Civil War to try to restore law and order.
"He's a fictional guy, probably made up from five or six real characters," Logue says. "There was a lot of movement among the officer corps during the Civil War, just because of the casualty rates. So this guy comes back to New York and becomes an iconic representative of when the Tammany political regime really started to put it into overdrive.
"I studied history, so being able to bring to life things like Gettysburg, and The Patriot, and Vikings, and then this period on Copper, has been great."
Logue's roles on Vikings (King Horik) and Sons of Anarchy (Lee Toric) still are active. Bouncing from character to character to character has presented scheduling challenges, but a simple approach allows Logue to keep things straight.
"Years ago I did a flick with a young man named Adam Hann-Byrd, who had starred in the movie Little Man Tate when he was a kid," Logue recalls. "He was telling me about the experience of working with Jodie Foster, and how great she was.
"He asked her at the time, 'How do you act?' And she said, 'Well, you just pretend real hard.' Wow, that's so great. And don't break, just have that mental vigour of pretending real hard."
Donal Logue has that skill. I'm willing to bet Charles Dickens had a form of it, too.