Category Archives: Detective/police 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

Comments Off on The Joy of Sets: Twin Peaks

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

Comments Off on Law and Order UK: Breaking Brooks

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

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

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

Joy of Sets: The Professionals Mk1

pla prosI will be honest with you. I adore the Professionals and have done since I was a child with (what felt like) a life-size poster of Bodie and Doyle on my bedroom wall. When I heard about the remastering of the show for DVD and Blu-Ray, you could probably have heard the squeeing from space. But, be warned, I watch this show with my slash goggles on – they allow me to overlook the political incorrectness, sexism and ludicrous moments like Cowley calling for a “helicopter and the nuclear bomb squad” or Bodie and Doyle defusing an atom bomb in a bowling alley (Stake Out) and focus on the alchemical gold of Bodie and Doyle.

For those who prefer a, ahem, straighter reading of the text, this is what you need to know. The lads have never looked better. Watching the repeats on ITV4 is genuinely like peering back through 30-odd years of grime. I’m not sure the show looked this good even when it was first aired… Network has done an incredible clean-up job. And the shiny new boxed set comes with lots of gorgeous extras, including exhaustive production notes (a 180-page paperback filled with everything you could ever want to know about the making of the first series. My only complaint is the tiny font they’ve used – good for the trees, bad for my eyes), Without Walls – the 1996 Channel 4 documentary about the show (which left me wanting to give creator Brian Clemens a slap, to be honest), a couple of bits of unused footage, and a massive gallery of photos, many of which haven’t been seen before, and covering the first few days’ shooting with Anthony Andrews as Bodie (on Old Dog With New Tricks).

pla punchbagOh and Network has put the episodes back together with the original, unintentionally hilarious, title sequences. I was too young to see the first couple of series, so for me Laurie Johnson’s iconic theme tune has always conjured the image of a car smashing through a window, Martin Shaw looking like he’s about to chop down a particularly nefarious tree and Lewis Collins ferociously working out in the gym. The sight of Shaw and Collins vigorously throwing themselves at random targets in the original titles is one that makes me smile and wince in equal measure. (We also get the original closing titles, worth checking for the sheer lack of traffic on the roads of London back then.)

If you’ve spent the last 35 years or so ignoring Bodie grabbing Doyle’s arse, Doyle touching up Bodie, or the pair of them making eyes at each other and flirting, and would like to continue watching from a heteronormative perspective – now’s the time to jump ship (if you’ll pardon the pun) on this review. Those who ship (or at least don’t mind if others ship) Bodie and Doyle, come with me below the line…

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Detective/police drama, Joy of Sets

Jonathan Creek: A mediocre act

jonathan-creekIt is almost unheard of for a positive soul like myself to post two negative blog posts in a row, which is why I went for the safe option of reviewing Mr Creek’s all new adventure, comfortable in the fact that I had yet to sit through an episode that I hadn’t enjoyed.

The past tense is not accidental, it pains me to say. The preview promised the return of a mystery/comedy, but it failed to deliver on both, leaving a lacklustre hour of sadly predictable and cliche television.

The main gripe must of course be the fact that there wasn’t a mystery to solve. The episode centred around a hammy actress (kudos to the apt casting of a former Hollyoaks star here) who was stabbed in the street by the wife of a stage hand who fancied her. Instead of reporting the stabber to the police, she was persuaded to cover her injury up, with the help of a makeup artist who put prosthetic skin over the wound (honestly, I’m not actually making that up). Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Detective/police drama

Kick-ass women: Indira Varma

indira varmaThe final episode of the BBC 1 drama What Remains aired last night, and if you haven’t seen it, get yourself to iPlayer immediately. But leave the lights on.  I’m not going to post any spoilers, but what I will say is that the ending was twisted, dark and rather extreme. The final scene will haunt me for quite a while, I think.

Front and centre when any twisted, dark, extreme stuff was going on was the character of Elaine Markham, played with absolute swagger and charismatic nastiness by Indira Varma (who also appeared in Luther and has been cast in the next series of Game of Thrones). In a cast of incredible actors (Steven Mackintosh, David Threlfall etc), Varma stole every scene she was in. Elaine was, at best, bitchy, feisty, confident and sexy as hell. At worst, she was very, very bad indeed. Or, in Varma’s words, “When she’s your friend, it’s a party all the time, it’s great fun. But if she turns against you – that’s when you’re in trouble.”

Posted by PLA     (episode 1 and 2 reviewed here)

Comments Off on Kick-ass women: Indira Varma

Filed under Detective/police drama, Drama, Kick ass women