A beyond gripping and above-average tale of UK police corruption, rarely slowing down needlessly and showcasing plausible office politics- it all pays off on an emotional level. Also, a must-see for manhunt action and familiar beloved character actors seen in each new season!
Plot: Detective Sgt. Arnott (Martin Compston, Doomsday) is transferred to the anti-corruption division’s unit 12 after refusing to play by the dishonest paperwork in the counter-terrorism street unit. His new superior, Hastings (Adrian Dunbar, The Hollow Crown), trusts that he’ll be able to think outside the box and not let any office politics prevent him from ratting out any abuse of police privilege. He works alongside partner, Inspector Fleming (Vicky McClure, Five Daughters), who also is rather observant and good at thinking outside the box.
Review: Season 1 involves law-abusing yet highly favored DCI Anthony Gates (Lennie James, Jericho) investigating and being investigated on. Season 2 involves the investigation of a witness protection police convoy where 3 officers are slaughtered with the only survivor being Inspector Denton (Keeley Hawes, Spooks) who suspiciously got away scot-free. Season 3 has Sgt. Waldron (Daniel Mays, Shifty) being questioned while Arnott himself later comes under investigation. Season 4 focuses on DCI Huntley (Thandie Newton, Westworld) being questioned after she captures an at-large serial killer. Season 5 deals with seeing if undercover D.S. Corbett (Stephen Graham, London Boulevard) has any connection to an organized crime gang. Season 6 covers the investigation of DCI Davidson (Kelly Macdonald, Puzzle) who’s murder investigation methods raise questions towards herself.
I had seen comparisons of this show to other beloved crime shows such as The Wire, Luther and The Shield and, after seeing it myself, there’s plenty of other similarities to the likes of Prince of the City, Engrenages/Spiral, Braquo, Spooks and even Prime Suspect. It deserves huge kudos for letting the mood be dictated primarily by the music and character expressions instead of relying on clever wordplay or more burnt-out cop clichés. By using those elements, it creates a greater sense of distrust and before you know it, time has truly flown by without feeling rushed or feeling like too much time was wasted on one subplot.
The investigations themselves never play out the way you expect due to how any character is capable of shelling out absolute surprises. It helps primarily that this is always dealing with how everyone is always pursuing one another while also also getting into various mind-games. It always pays off because it makes use of each minute without growing repetitive or tedious, which is always a lovely thing! It also helps that it’s not reliant on graphic content as it shows you that the future of TV entertainment can still have some atmospheric moments that do the talking as opposed to constantly relying on shocking content and colorful language every 5 minutes.
Last of all, it’s especially swell that it still has previous seasons mentioned and many of the same crooked higher-ups come into play for other reasons which helps makes this a tad more down-to-earth by showing how some of the main culprits who are pulling the strings get away by having other fall guys in play.
So if you’re tired of rewatching your Homicide: Life on the Street DVDs or viewing Law & Order reruns and want something far more twisted in its premise, then don’t hesitate to scoop up this easy-to-digest yet very well-formatted show. The first five seasons are currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu. You might consider getting one of those special discounted boxed physical media sets too if that works better for you but it won’t be easy due to region restrictions. It also occasionally gets aired in edited format on local PBS affiliate stations.