Category Archives: Detective/police drama

Unforgotten – unshowy and unmissable

47-Unforgotten-ITVForgive me, but I am going to inflict a (*grimaces*) listicle on you. However, I want you to be able to go and watch the first episode of Unforgotten before a) it slips off ITV Player and b) the second episode airs, and I don’t have time to do it proper paragraphy justice right now. I will however spare you a ’24 reasons why you should be watching Unforgotten’-style headline…

  1. It’s a crime show without horrendous violence inflicted on women and the results slowly panned over like some sort of fetishist’s fantasy.
  2. It’s got Nicola Walker in the lead role. This should be enough to make most discerning Pauseliveaction readers stop reading and start watching.
  3. Sanjeev Bhaskar is her sidekick. (I have to confess to a little bit of a crush here – but you should be watching him for his acting even if you don’t wish you could be in Meera Syal’s shoes for an evening.)
  4. It has excellent, series 1-Broadchurch pacing; neither frenetic, nor Midsomer Murders lethargic. Rarely does it feel like plots unfurl these days, but Unforgotten captures that feeling.
  5. We have no idea how all the disparate characters we’re introduced to are going to link to the skeleton in the basement, but they’re all intriguing anyway. Their stories are engaging in their own right – they feel like they could each stand alone for an hour, skeleton or no.
  6. The supporting cast includes Tom Courtenay, Ruth Sheen, Bernard Hill, Gemma Jones, Peter Egan and Trevor Eve (in a sledgehammer-subtle take on Alan Sugar – and, for me, the only thing I’m not sold on yet).

If you catch up on episode one now, you’ll be ready to start watching in real time on Thursday (ITV1, 9pm). If the next five hours are as good as the first, we’re in for a treat.

Jo the Hat

3 Comments

Filed under Detective/police drama

Grantchester: Downton with vicars

ROBSON-GREEN-as-Geordie-Keating-and-JAMES-NORTON-as-Sidney-ChambersIt had the cosy, rural setting, the received pronunciation English accents, the urgent violin soundtrack, the ridiculously high-waisted costumes and just the right amount of sexual scandal and intrigue. Yes, Grantchester was pretty much Downton Abbey, just a bit racier.

It was a comfortable drama, a none too strenuous watch and held my attention (which is no easy feat; ask my long suffering wife) for the full hour. It focused on the vicar of a small village, who found himself embroiled in a murder investigation after looking too deeply into an apparent suicide. The vicar, with the almost porn-star name of Sidney Chambers, held a funeral for the ‘suicide’ victim where all others would not, which won him the respect and attention of the victim’s secret lover, who suggested that all was not as it seems.

Unable to resist the conspiracy, Sidney sought the advice of a policeman called Geordie, played by Geordie Robson Green of Waterloo Road and Extreme Fishing fame. Geordie was a no nonsense, chain smoking, backgammon winning, Simon Cowell trouser wearing arm of the law who took some heavy persuading to buy into Sidney’s murder theory. But Mr Chambers kept up his Sherlock Holmes act and before long, the pair set out to crack the case.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Detective/police drama, Drama

Chasing Shadows: A shadow of a drama

Having enjoyed the recent ITV drama, The Widower, starring Reece Shearsmith, I had high hopes for the new four part crimeChasing-Shadows thriller Chasing Shadows, in which a difficult to work with detective (aren’t they all!?) with autistic tendencies takes on some missing persons cases.

The show promised it would be more than a standard crime drama and would take a unique slant on what is very much a well worn format, but unfortunately, two episodes in and one very uninspiring case solved, and I am still not convinced of this one bit.

Reece Shearsmith gives an undeniably decent performance of a man suffering from Aspergers Syndrome, adopting some physical and voice attributes that aren’t subtle but aren’t overdone either (just).

However, if it was the show’s intention for us to warm to DS Sean Stone, I am afraid that we are a long way off the mark. The writing lacks any warmth or depth to a character that could potentially be extremely complex, and there is little to no chemistry between Stone and his partner, Ruth Hattersley, played adequately by Alex Kingston.   Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Detective/police drama, Drama

The Joy of Sets: Twin Peaks

twin peaksI haven’t seen Twin Peaks since it originally aired in 1990-91, but I’ve always wanted to see it again. Now, thanks to the channel that currently calls itself Syfy, I can. I settled down to watch the pilot episode feeling a tiny bit apprehensive in case I was disappointed – maybe it wouldn’t have stood the test of time and be as freaky/wonderful as I fondly remembered.

The weirdest thing to begin with was how pin-sharp and beautiful it looked. I remembered it as a bit grainy-looking. This is possibly because I had a rubbish TV back in 1990 and everything looked grainy. And small. Now, on my shiny newish flat-screen model, Twin Peaks looks crystal clear.

It’s the only crystal clear thing about it, of course. Twin Peaks was the first programme I remember watching that made me realise you don’t have to follow and understand every tiny thing that happens. Some things, you just have to go with the flow and trust that some sort of sense will happen eventually. It swings between hilarious and harrowing and you just have to go along for the ride.   Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Detective/police drama, Drama, Joy of Sets

Law and Order UK: Breaking Brooks

Slid back into its slot for one last time after an absence of several weeks, the momentum had been somewhat lost since the dramatic events of the previous Law and Order episode, in which Wes was killed and DS Ronnie Brooks faced a struggle coming to terms with events.

In this episode (which has now been confirmed as the last, as Bradley Walsh is leaving the role), the force faced a particularly challenging case of a stabbing committed by a fifteen year old caught up in the dark world of street gangs.

law and orderVarious mishaps, including insufficient forensic evidence and a particularly rottweiler duty solicitor, led to the prime suspect being released without charge twice, an injustice which began to affect Ronnie significantly given the lads’ constant taunts of him. As events came to a head and a gang of youths ended up being searched for knives, Ronnie claimed that the suspect made a gloating confession about the murder. We did not see this happen, but we did not have to as no viewer doubted Ronnie’s honesty. This is a character who has developed and led eight series of this drama and there was never any questions with the audience over who was telling the truth.   Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Detective/police drama, Legal dramas

Fargo: You’ve spent your whole life thinking there are rules. There aren’t…

 

fargo-tv-seriesI’ve been in need of good telly lately. Rev. is fab, so is Nashville and The Good Wife, but I miss The BridgeLine of Duty and Parks and Recreation. MasterChef doesn’t do it for me anymore. I can’t even be bothered to tune into the Great British Menu, despite loving Prue Leith and co on the judging panel dearly, because it all got too formulaic and silly last time round. The ‘brief’ is always silly, trumped-up and about as clear as a poorly executed consommé. After finishing and enjoying House of Cards (twice), I’ve been watching some ok TV series suggested by Netflix, but they all seem to be heavily dominated by men (Suits, Justified, Sons of Anarchy), and frankly, I have no interest in watching things in which women have been reduced to bits of skirt. The sexism of the 70s seems to be thriving in American drama, unless Netflix aren’t showing me the ones in which women have decent parts.

Best Marge of all time

Best Marge of all time

So, as a massive fan of the best fictional Marge on the planet after the blue-haired one, you might say I’m ripe and ready for the new TV series of Fargo (Channel Four, Sundays, 9pm). William H Macy was revoltingly, skin-crawlingly brilliant as hapless Jerry Lundegaard in the Coen brothers’ film, and I guess we all wondered if Martin Freeman would be as good – and could pull off a Minnesotan accent (and the Minnesotan accent – ya – you betcha -was such a brilliant feature of the original Fargo, it was almost a character in itself). Also, if anyone could make a good hash of a reworking of what was a frankly brilliant film.

Second best Marge, by a blue whisker

Well, the good news is, it seems Noah Hawley can. It’s not exactly the same story as the film, it’s sort-of is, it’s in the same, cold-as-heck, snowbound ballpark anyhoo (actually filmed in Calgary, Alberta, not Minnesota, however). The characters share similarities/dysfunctions with those from the 1996 film but are also different. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Detective/police drama

Law and Order UK: Criminally underrated

Nestled inconspicuously in the midweek 9pm slot, Law and Order UK is one of TV’s constants. Already eight seasons in, it’s a subtle staple of the schedules that rarely fails to deliver on all fronts. The format is quick and snappy, derived from a USA counterpart and, at times, the fast paced stories can seem rushed and contrived. However, the knowledge that a resolution to the mystery will become clear within the hour timeslot and we will see the plot unfold from the crime to the verdict and often beyond, is comforting.bradley-walsh

Law and Order UK does not pretend to be anything other than an hour of entertaining and easy to follow drama. There is no pretension here; a crime is committed, every character we meet will undoubtedly have played some vital part in the story (there is simply no time for many red herrings) and the police are a little bit too sharp in situations where the resolution can stretch the imagination. It doesn’t matter though; take Law and Order UK for what it is, and the hour flies by.

It is a little idealistic, usually painting the police and the prosecution team as heroic mavericks desperate only for the truth come out. Similarly, defence lawyers are painted as snarling and sneaky villains, searching for a loophole to get their crook off the hook. It’s a premise that works so long as you aren’t looking for a documentary.   Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Detective/police drama, Legal dramas