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Amongst the Desperation and fear growing in a crime ridden sink estate in northern England, one man becomes involved into saving what little decency and community life exists. It's the winter of 1974 power cuts and coal strikes cripple the country, which is reduced to a 3 day working week alongside Police 'centralisation'. Everything it seems is falling apart along with the community's only hope and protector, the nearly retired Detective Sergeant Barry Harrigan. Written by
Except it isn't. And it never was. Life up north in the 1970s -- and especially, England's Northeast -- was nothing like the monochrome wasteland presented here. Nor was policing like this, either, despite the protestations of those connected with this low-rent low-budget outing.
Absent its premise, therefore, of hard men in hard times in hard places, "Harrigan" is no more than a straight-to-video made-for-TV affair, its simplicities of plot and characterisation conveyed via clichés so stupefyingly banal that one positively yearns for the raw energy of yesteryear's Caine and Hodges in the same part of the world at the same time as this.
"Harrigan" doesn't convince at any level. Stephen Tompkinson has already had a stab at playing a TV policeman -- the leaden "DCI Banks" -- and failed utterly in that role, so why he's here essaying the same kind of grim teeth-gritted stoicism all over again is baffling.
About the only thing that does ring true is the way "Harrigan" -- too close to Don Siegel's "Madigan" for my liking, though it's doubtful anyone involved in this British production will even have heard of that superb US police procedural -- seems to have been shot on a budget typical of a 1970s British TV show.
But that doesn't redeem anything. Unrelentingly drab, dismal, and derivative of a thousand B-Movies that have gone before -- including Westerns as well as copper operas -- "Harrigan" is yet another example, were such needed, of how small-scale British movie making is today incapable of working the crime genre in the way that films like "Violent Playground" and "Never Let Go" did, half a century and more ago.
Still, at least there's some originality in the write-in campaign that seems to be underway where this comment thread is concerned -- a case for investigation by Detective Harrigan, perhaps? Or IMDb itself . .
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