It appears to be fashionable at the moment for crime dramas to show the police at their most inept. Fallibility is inherent in all of us and the British police are far from immune, however, there really has been a glut of dopey sods masquerading as highly trained officers of the law on telly lately
By Tellysgonewrong @tellyswrong
It appears to be fashionable at the moment for crime dramas to show the police at their most inept. Fallibility is inherent in all of us and the British police are far from immune, however, there really has been a glut of dopey sods masquerading as highly trained officers of the law on telly lately. One look at something like ’24 Hours in Police Custody’ should reveal how careful they have to be before issuing so much as a parking ticket these days, let alone charging someone with murder simply because the suspect, like all killers, has been seen wearing shoes.
‘Broken’ (BBC 1) finished a couple of weeks ago and, apart from a stunning performance by Sean Bean – which I can never resist pronouncing, Seen Bawn – featured a scene where armed police shot dead a blinded, manic depressive, teenager in front of his mother and then got all cover-y up about it. We live in dangerous times but, I’m sure we’re not yet a the stage where a SWAT team is dispatched to a residential home simply because some teenager has got all uppity at his mum for not getting his local priest to come and see him.
‘Fearless’ (ITV 1) is currently following vodka-swilling, chain-smoking, pacifist lawyer Emma Banville (Helen McCrory) running rings around both the CIA and the CID, revealing that they have framed the world’s unluckiest school caretaker for murder who, after enduring 15 years of false imprisonment, is then released from prison and into the path of an oncoming lorry, no doubt waved through by some hapless traffic cop. The series concludes this week with Banville delivering a presentation to senior officers from both sides of the Atlantic whilst indicating Power Point slides and repeating the words ‘Arse’ and ‘Elbow’.
‘In The Dark’ (BBC 1) continues the theme as Detective Helen Weeks, played by the curiously named MyAnna Buring, stumbles upon an old friend whose partner is prime suspect in a double murder investigation. Despite the flimsiest of evidence and with complete disregard for the sensitive nature of the crimes (involving the abduction of teenage girls), the Police seem content to release enough information about the suspect to allow the world’s media to crawl over his home and family in a way usually reserved for Texan serial killers. You would feel that some due diligence, when writing and researching this type of investigation, would surely have revealed that things aren’t done this way. Presumably someone, somewhere, simply decreed that realism doesn’t make good telly. Well get knotted I say, we’ve got soap operas to feed our blandness, there must be room in a four hour drama to paint some light and shade into a character battling the shame of her lover facing child abduction charges without having to simply show her door-stepped by media hacks shouting questions at her and blinding her with camera flashbulbs from the 1940’s.
Helen has returned to her northern roots for some R & R following a trauma at work. Luckily, her work is also her hobby and her work colleague is also her hubby so Mr & Mrs Weeks proceed to conduct their own investigation into a murder that is already being investigated. It’s a bit like Hart to Hart but with cheaper jewellery and one fewer Butler. Anyway, they find that the all-too-hasty arrest and charging of the suspected murderer is down to cocky, up from the smoke, Detective Tim Cornish who turns out to be an ex-colleague of Helen’s partner, Paul. This little coincidence, combined with Helen’s intimate friendship with the suspect’s other half, Emma, gives the pair of maverick coppers unprecedented access to both sides of the story and the fact that DC Weeks accompanies Emma as she is interviewed by fellow officers doesn’t strike anyone as compromising at all.
Having blagged her way through the crime scene tape by flashing her Oyster card at yet another numbskull uniformed copper, Helen then casually discusses the scene of crime photos with the man from forensics. You know he’s from forensics because he wears white overalls and rubber gloves and he can eat sandwiches while he’s weighing someone’s liver. Finding it strange that a body can remain undetected in an area popular with dog walkers until it has decomposed to the extent it has (‘maggoty’ says the bloke from forensics, tucking into his humus), Helen deduces that the victim must have been moved there post-mortem. Tim Cornish doesn’t agree. He thinks the corpse rotted away by the side of the road because the local population are dead thick and he’s not interested in her theories because he’s just bought a new ‘whistle’ for the trial. She has other theories involving DNA samples and doesn’t like being called emotional by fellow officers when she’s telling them how to do their jobs so she’s making a bit of nuisance of herself to be honest. Fortunately, the pair have another ally in the shape of Super Hans from Peep Show (Matt King). He is also a forensic guy and is in London, eating jellied-eels whilst removing a spleen, but tells them he’ll be on the next train to Yorkshire.
She is then struck by an awful truth.
If she’s the central character in a current crime drama, should she be having ‘flashbacks’?
Seen Bawn in ‘Broken’ had them, the Vodka woman in ‘Fearless’ has them and, if they do actually re-make Hart to Hart (and why the bleeding hell not?) Max, the Butler, would probably have them and they’d be about that day he didn’t ‘pick up’ after Freeway.
So Helen duly has the flashbacks. They will continue through the 4-part series, like a recurring nightmare with the terrifying climax drawing slightly closer each night, until the back story is revealed which will, somehow, resolve her present turmoil.
The only thing that’s certain is that some flat-footed plod will cock something right up before the end of the next episode.
This review also appears on https://tellysgonewrong.blogspot.co.uk/