Posts Tagged ‘Crime Drama’

CrackerHe’s overweight, overbearing, smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish. He’s arrogant, foul-mouthed and sarcastic, yet at the same time brilliant. And when it comes to making a suspect crack, you can’t do better than Fitz.

Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald is a forensic psychologist who consults with the Manchester police department, though not always with open arms. Fitz does help close cases. He’s sometimes aggressive when he’s interrogating suspects, but he gets them to tell the truth, to Crackercrack. The problem with Fitz is, though he may be good at his job, he’s terrible at his personal life. His excessive drinking and addiction to gambling puts a strain on his marriage. He has a fling with a colleague and difficulties with his only brother.

Each case plays out over the course of two or three episodes. They involve cases of murder, rape and kidnapping. Fitz has the gift of being able to get into the head of the criminal psychopaths, find out their motives to crack the suspect and the case.

CrackerRobbie Coltrane, who is probably better known as a comedian, or as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, is great as Fitz. Even though this is a drama, Coltrane brings his Scottish humor to his character. He also won three consecutive BAFTA awards for his role as Fitz.

Several actors of note appear as main characters in the series: Christopher Eccleston, many years before he ever thought he’d be cast as the 9th Dr. Who; and Ricky Tomlinson, who I’ve only seen in the comedy, The Royle Family. Guest stars include Jim Carter (Carson on Downton Abbey), James Fleet (Hugo on The Vicar of Dibley), Samantha Morton and the fabulous film actor Robert Carlyle.

MAIN CAST:
Robbie Coltrane – Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald
Christopher Eccleston – David Bilborough
Ricky Tomlinson – Charlie Wise
Geraldine Somerville – Jane Penhaligon
Lorcan Cranitch – Jimmy Beck
Barbara Flynn – Judith Fitzgerald
Kieran O’Brien – Mark Fitzgerald
Tess Thomson – Katie Fitzgerald
Ian Mercer – George Giggs

Total Seasons: 3 seasons (23 episodes and two specials)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: All
In Production: 1993 – 1996, 2006
Viewer Discretion: violence, language, adult situations, nudity

Thorne

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne investigates two murder cases, each unfolding in three episodes.

Sleepyhead:
Three young women are found dead. It looks like they died from strokes caused by pressure being placed on their heads and necks. The fourth victim survives, but is totally paralyzed and unable to communicate. Did the killer intend to let her live? Thorne believes this final victim, Alison, must have seen her assailant and he goes to extreme measures to try to get the Thorneinformation out of her.

Scaredy Cat:
Two women have been murdered near St. Pancras tube station, but in very different ways. Thorne discovers there are other murders from the past that are similar and determines there are two serial killers at work.

ThorneThis series doesn’t stand out as exceptional, but I did enjoy it. There are some surprises at the end of each episode that will keep you watching and enough misdirection to keep you guessing who the killer is. And something I’ve always thought interesting about British crime dramas is that they are able to successfully do their jobs without carrying firearms. How do they do that?

If you are fans of the US show, The Walking Dead, you’ll be familiar with David Morrissey who plays The Governor, but might be surprised to know that he’s originally from Liverpool. (Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick on that show, is also a Brit!)

MAIN CAST:
David Morrissey – Tom Thorne
Eddie Marsan – Kevin Tughan
Aiden Gillen – Phil Hendricks
O.T. Fagbenle – David Holland
Lorraine Ashbourne – Brigstocke

Total Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 1
In Production: 2010
Viewer Discretion: Language, violence, adult situations

TitleIt’s 1965 and a teenage schoolgirl from Oxford has disappeared and is presumed dead. A very young Constable Endeavour Morse, who dropped out of Oxford, is temporarily assigned to the Oxford branch to support the investigation.

The story opens with Morse typing up is resignation letter, ready to leave law enforcement. But he soon discovers that police work is what he’s made for. Though he’s not readily accepted by the more experienced police officers on the case (he ends up working alone for the most part), they soon discover that he knows what he’s talking about. His superior, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, recognizes Morse’s talents and takes Endeavour under his wing.Morse and Thursday

Unfortunately, I have yet to see any episodes of Inspector Morse, the series of feature-length TV shows produced from 1987 to 2000 starring John Thaw. Not that I don’t want to, it’s just that there are so many British TV shows to write about, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. But after watching this prequel, I’m certainly interested in checking them out.

This show apparently contains a lot of references to Endeavour’s future self, including his love of opera and passion for crossword puzzles, both of which help him solve this case.

Since I had no preconceived ideas about the character of Endeavour Morse, I was able to watch this without comparing Shaun Evans’ portrayal to John Thaw’s. Although, even if you are a fan, the early Morse would be and should be very different from his older self anyway.

MAIN CAST:
Shaun Evans – Endeavour Morse
Roger Allam – Fred Thursday
James Bradshaw – Max DeBryn
Abigail Thaw – Dorothea Frazil

Total Seasons: 1 episode (90 minutes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 1
In Production: 2012
Viewer Discretion: Violence

Title

It’s 1889 and six months after Jack the Ripper’s crime spree in London’s East End Whitechapel district. H Division is the police precinct in charge of Whitechapel, one of the poorest sections of the city, home to factories, brothels and pubs. H Division failed to catch Jack the Ripper and when the series opens and more women are murdered in Whitechapel, it is thought that the Ripper has returned.

Edmund Reid - Matthew MacfaydenDetective Inspector Edmund Reid is in charge of H Division. He’s a man with a troubled marriage, due to the disappearance, and possible death, of his young daughter. He blames himself for this situation and it has taken a toll on his wife, Emily, and their relationship. Reid is joined by Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake and an American, Homer Jackson. Jackson is a former US Army surgeon, a man who seems to know his way around dead bodies. Together they police the Whitechapel district, trying to keep some semblance of Male Castlaw and order.

Ripper Street is dark, dirty, gritty and nasty, not unlike HBO’s Deadwood, of which I am a big fan. But I gather it’s an accurate representation of London’s East End at that time in history. It’s also a show that investigates the early days of forensic pathology. Many clues are gleaned through Jackson’s autopsies and experiments in his “lab.”

As I’ve said in previous posts, I adore Matthew Macfayden. And he’s the reason I tuned into the show. But I have to admit, though the production is excellent, writing and acting more so, it isn’t a “can’t wait until the next episode” kind of a show for me. I do look forward to the second series, which is scheduled to air in 2014, just to see how the show and the characters evolve.

MAIN CAST:
Matthew Macfayden – Edmund Reid
Jerome Flynn – Bennet Drake
Adam Rothenberg – Homer Jackson
MyAnna Buring – Long Susan
Charlene McKenna – Rose Erskine
Amanda Hale – Emily Reid

Total Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 1
In Production: 2012
Viewer Discretion: Violence, adult situations, language

Title

I have to say that the British have been good at coming up with different ways to tell stories. And Accused is a new way of telling stories of law and order.

Christopher EcclestonEach episode is a different story of an ordinary person awaiting trial for a crime. (The last two episodes are linked with the outcome of one story leading into the next.) Each episode opens with the main character being lead to the courtroom and portions of the trial are intercut with the backstory of how this person got there.

A man at the end of his tether finds a bag of cash that can get him out of debt. A mother loses her son in a workplace accident she considers suspicious and she needs someone to blame. A taxi driver becomes obsessed with one of his fares. How far will he go to have her? A father believes his daughter has been molested and takes the law into his own hands. What circumstances would compel you to commit Andy Serkisa crime? Would you go to such extreme measures?

Accused features many well-known UK actors including Christopher Eccleston, the ninth Dr. Who, Juliet Stevenson (Place of Execution), Olivia Colman (Peep Show), MacKenzie Crook (The Office) and film actors Andy Serkis and Sean Bean. I enjoyed seeing Olivia Colman in a seriously dramatic role, quite the opposite of anything else I’ve seen her in previously. And if you’re a fan of Sean Bean, his role in Accused is quite a surprise.

This is not in any way a feel-good show. Sometimes it’s quite sad, and definitely serious. I had a bit of sympathy for some of the accused, but others not so much. I thought the first six episodes were the best.

MAIN CAST:
Christopher Eccleston – Willy Houlihan
Juliet Stevenson – Helen Ryland
Olivia Colman – Sue
Andy Serkis – Liam Black
Sean Bean – Simon
Mackenzie Crook – Alan Buckley

Total Seasons: 2 (10 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 0
In Production: 2010 – 2012
Viewer Discretion: language, violence, adult situations, brief nudity

Strictly Confidenttial castLinda Nelson quit her job as a police officer to become a sex therapist. She shares a practice in Leeds with her brother-in-law, Greg. She’s desperate to have a child, but finds out that her husband, Richard, is infertile. She asks Richard’s brother, Greg, to be a sperm donor, much to the dismay of Greg’s wife, Penny, as well as Richard.

Linda used to be involved with Greg before she married Richard. And if that wasn’t complicated enough, Linda is asked to consult on a murder investigation with her ex-lover, Detective Sergeant Angie Morton, who still has strong feelings for Linda. The case involves auto-erotic asphyxiation and could be linked back to her and Richard when a second victim is Suranne Jones as Linda Nelsonfound and she’s one of Linda’s patients.

I found this show kind of odd in that it really is two shows in one. Why bring the murder case into it? It’s enough of a show without it. How do you successfully integrate the story of a sex therapist with that of a murder investigation? I guess because the case has a sexual angle.

The rest of the show centers around Linda’s and Greg’s various patients with sexual dysfunctions. These stories are almost like comic relief compared to the serious storylines of the murder and Linda’s desire to have a child.

Linda and GregAnd unfortunately, rather than sympathize with Linda, I didn’t care much for her. She blames Richard for their inability to conceive, which is out of his control. This pushes her into the arms of her brother-in-law, whom she guiltlessly has an affair with.

Is this show worth watching? Depends. Some viewers will be put off by the strong sexual content. But some of the acting is good, especially by Kate Isitt, who might be best known for her role as Sally on Coupling.

MAIN CAST:
Suranne Jones – Linda Nelson
Cristian Solimeno – Richard Nelson
Tristan Gemmill – Greg Nelson
Eva Pope – Angie Morton
Kate Isitt – Penny Nelson
Stacey Roca – Claudie

Total Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 1
In Production: 2006
Viewer Discretion: Strong sexual content, language, nudity

Title

Dapper detective Joseph Chandler is a novice when it comes to murder, yet he’s been assigned to investigate one. A woman has been murdered in Whitechapel, her throat cut, the crime scene mimicking that of Jack the Ripper’s first kill.

CastBelieving East London to have a Jack the Ripper copycat on its hands, Chandler and his team of detectives, accompanied by Ripperologist, Edward Buchan, seek out the killer using the clues from the original 1888 case, along with modern technology and investigative techniques. If this killer is copying Jack the Ripper, they should be able to predict his every move and stop him before he kills again. At first, newbie Chandler receives little or no support Rupert Penry-Jonesfrom his squad of veteran coppers. But they soon learn that Chandler’s ideas seem to be spot on, leading them to the killer.

At first I thought this whole series was going to be about a modern day Jack the Ripper case, but that’s only the beginning. Whitechapel is more like several mini-series, each three episode series dealing with a different case. Series 2 and 3 cover other copycat cases: the Ratcliffe Highway Murders, the Thames Torso Murders, and the crimes of the Kray twins in the 1960s.

Like most British crime dramas, Whitechapel has well-developed characters, a suspenseful script and exceptional performances by the entire cast.

MAIN CAST:
Rupert Penry-Jones – Joseph Chandler
Phil Davis – Ray Miles
Steve Pemberton – Edward Buchan

Total Seasons: 3 (12 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 1
In Production: 2009 – 2012
Viewer Discretion: violence, adult situations

Blue Murder

TOP PICK

Janine Lewis has just been promoted to Detective Chief Inspector, but her excitement is quashed when she comes home to celebrate and finds her husband in bed with another woman. Janine now has to juggle her career and her three children – with a fourth on the way – all on her own.

DVD CoverJanine and her team of homicide detectives investigate the most gruesome crimes in Manchester. But even though the stories are dark and gritty, the show still has a touch of humor in it. The characters really click with each other and Janine’s team seems like a second family to her. She’s sometimes like a mother hen, keeping everyone in line and on task, while averting Janine and Richardconflicts between the detectives.

There are a lot of UK crime dramas with female leads and I like that. Shows like New Tricks, Vera and Prime Suspect have women in the role of commander. And in Blue Murder, the portrayal of a high ranking female police officer balancing her work life and full family life is nicely explored. What do you do when you’re trying to catch a killer, but your children need you at home?

I really like Caroline Quentin. This was the first show I saw her in. There are a couple of others she is equally great in that I have yet to write about: Jonathan Creek and Life Begins.

MAIN CAST:
Caroline Quentin – DCI Janine Lewis
Ian Kelsey – DI Richard Mayne
Nicholas Murchie – DS Tony Shap
Paul Loughran – DS Ian Butchers

Total Seasons: 5 (19 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 5
In Production: 2004 – 2009
Viewer Discretion: violence, language

Title

Jack Mowbray is a dedicated police officer in Bristol, England. He’s been able to balance his work life and home life easily, until he gets involved in the case of a sadistic serial killer who has taken the lives of several women in England and Wales. This case affects Jack deeply, but affects his wife even more, putting a strain on their relationship. The series contains some unexpected plot twists that will surprise you and keep you guessing about “Who done it.”

Ross Kemp-Jack Mowbray          Victim's family

This is the first UK crime drama that I’ve seen that deals with just one case over the course of the whole 12 episode series. The inquiry goes on for months and months before someone is finally caught and charged with the crime. Without Motive is also one of the few crime dramas to take an in-depth look at the personal as well as the professional lives of police officers and how the “job” can take a toll on their personal lives.

I also found it unusual that this was a show that featured many actors I had never seen before, and I like to think that I’ve seen quite a few British TV shows. Ross Kemp did appear in East Enders. And Karl Johnson, who was so brilliant as Twister in Lark Rise to Candleford, plays one of the suspects in Without Motive.

MAIN CAST:
Ross Kemp – Jack Mowbray
Jamie Foreman – Jim Boulter
Hazel Ellerby – Sally Mowbray
Kenneth Cranham – Derek Henderson
Karl Johnson – Robert Jackson
Ian Bartholomew – Ronnie Stocks
Jane Hazlegrove – Margaret Walkinshaw

Total Seasons: 2 (12 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 2
In Production: 2000-2002
Viewer Discretion: violence, language

Title

In 1963, 13-year old Alison Carter, from the remote village of Scardale in Northern England, goes out to walk her dog and never returns home.

More than forty years later, television journalist Catherine Heathcote is reinvestigating the story, The Coppersinterviewing the lead detective on the case, George Bennett. Back in 1963, this was young Bennett’s first major case, a chance to prove himself and possibly launch his career. But at the time of Alison’s disappearance, did Bennett follow protocol or did he do whatever it took to find out what happened to Alison? Did Bennett’s obsession with the case lead him to make some tragic mistakes? And what secrets is Catherine uncovering as she researches her documentary? What is the village of Scardale hiding? There are many more questions than answers surroundingGreg Wise as Philip Hawkin the missing girl’s case.

Place of Execution aired in the US in two episodes as part of the PBS Masterpiece series. What I found interesting was how the story was edited, cutting back and forth between the past, 1963, and present day, showing parallel storylines.

The story is based on the novel of the same name by Val McDermid, which won several book awards.

MAIN CAST:
Juliet Stevenson – Catherine Heathcote
Lee Ingleby – DI George Bennett (young)
Philip Jackson – George Bennett (old)
Emma Cunniffe – Ruth Hawkin
Elizabeth Day – Sasha Heathcote
Greg Wise – Philip Hawkin
Tony Maudsley – DS Tommy Clough
Poppy Goodburn – Alison Carter

Total Seasons: 1 (2 episodes)
Seasons Available on US Formatted DVD: 1
In Production: 2009
Viewer Discretion: Language