|Index||3 reviews in total|
Another new BBC detective programme, centring around leads Hugh
Bonneville and Janet McTeer as the chief and assistant of the local
CID, here drawn into a strange case of initially two (later three)
kidnapped children. The outcome is a cross between the "Inspector
Lynley Mysteries" "Dalziel & Pascoe" and "Trial & Retribution. In other
words nothing too original.
Spread over two one-hour episodes there was enough time for characterisation of most of the team and the story itself to develop and although never rising above "standard fare", the viewing time passed speedily and I was reasonably well entertained.
The direction wasn't too tricksy, employing mostly short punchy scenes to accentuate pace and energy, highlighting in detail the various, often mundane procedures the police must follow in pursuing a case, although the core story itself was unusual and of the "only in TV-land" variety, to say the least.
Even in these days of different types of fanaticism, it's hard to imagine a group of pro-life abortionists kidnapping young children, born to mothers who've had previous abortions, ritually posing them in front of cameras and holding them for ransom, their demand being the airing on national TV of a graphic video in support of their cause. Unusually, and daringly I suppose, for the first time I can remember, one of the children dies at their hands, although only by injection, nothing physical or abusive is perpetrated.
How the unit works hard to get their leads, follows them through and eventually cracks the case with a neat twist at the end on an old "beat the clock" premise all worked well but the usual cop-show clichés let it down, as is often the case with this type of drama. There's the "pushed to exhaustion" perception of the squad as if they're superman or women, the endless alphabetti-spaghetti jargon which the viewer has to assimilate instantly (TSI, ACC, CLO, SOCO, etc. - okay some are well-known but too much is a distraction) and worst of all the preponderance of physical inter-relationships between male and female officers. Less soap and more thud, say I.
The off-beat relationship between leads Bonneville & McTeer rings true, all the more so in comparison to the credulity-stretching antics of a very ordinary looking and seeming sergeant, capable it seems of bedding every girl on the team.
The ensemble acting was decent, Bonneville going from slob to suit effectively, so too McTeer from boozy do-nothing to sharp as a tack Mrs Organiser. I was also impressed by the actors playing the chav mother of one of the abducted children and the icy female doctor behind the plot.
I'd be happy to see more of this particular team in action if they can rein in the human stories of the individual squad members but know that if a long series follows, this is as likely to happen as snow in August. I live in hope...
There are so many crime dramas nowadays that it's hard for them to distinguish themselves. 'Hunter', a second outing for the characters who previously appeared in BBC TV's 'Five Days', is more conventional in plot structure than its predecessor; but as with that earlier series, concentrates heavily on the procedural elements of policing, and even lacks the maverick cop who is a staple of the genre. However, it does involve devious killers with unlikely an master-plan (another regular feature of such dramas), and Claire Holman (once of 'Inspector Morse' fame) again playing a police doctor. Bits are convincing, others less so; but the real problem is a certain lack of conviction, as if the writers knew they aren't saying anything really new. 'Hunter' isn't awful; but it pales compared to 'Prime Suspect', it's most obvious inspiration, which had generally better writing and acting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with Jc-osms on just about everything you have contributed
.....and yes, the old 'inter-cop-shop' relationship shenanigans have become a stereotype that I would gladly see less of. Particularly here where the young policewoman who has been 'dumped' by the supposed 'ladies man' of the office appears to be a clumsy attempt at linking the Pro Lifers' extortion and unplanned pregnancy. I say 'clumsy' because it was not necessary to the story - and so often the 'relationship' angle isn't. One of the few police dramas that managed to fully realise an 'in house' relationship with the story lines was probably Trial and Retribution.
But I digress.
I watched it in Australia on Fox UK (and is so often the case, it was already a few years old) and it was broadcast as an all in one programme, don't know if I would've bothered if it was in two parts to be honest.
What made this programme so watchable were the two leads, Hugh Bonneville and Janet McTeer. Now this is the kind of relationship I want to see! They are mates and those scenes at the beginning of Janet McTeer's character knocking back wine while Hugh Bonneville's character falls asleep were just lovely. Mind you, all of the acting is good.
and Yes, Paul 2001 - the actress who plays the working class mum of one of the kidnapped boys shines in this kind of role. There is something completely believable about her. Her name is not listed on the Cast here, so whoever you are: Lovely job!
Whoever wrote her dialogue and dressed her did a spot on job. She reminded me of real people, rather than some of the stereotyped representations of working class people you see all the time. As a Londoner I sometimes shudder at actors attempting to sound 'working class' - it all goes a bit 'Dick Van Dyke' at times doesn't it?! Ha ha ha.
The story line was not bad, dealing with the old chestnut: Does the end ever justify the means? as well as highlighting the hypocrisy of some Pro Life groups.
Watch it for the two leads - they have a genuine chemistry which makes this watchable. They lift this from a five to a six.
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