The Ghost Squad, Channel 4/E4

by | Nov 15, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A dark, profound drama which burrows to the rotten (fictionalised) heart of the British police force and tears it out with the relish of a thirsty vampire.

What to say if you didn’t like it

The dramatic equivalent of Last of the Summer Wine, in which each week the same plot is slightly tweaked to deceive the audience but always ends with a denouement similar to Compo rolling down a hill in a tin bath with wheels.

What was good about it?

• Both episodes featured fantastic casts. Elaine Cassidy is very good as Amy Harris, an inexperienced police officer who is framed for a death of a minor drugs pusher in custody by her colleagues. Forced to clear her name, she discovers even her best friend in the station was involved but nevertheless hands the vital evidence over to the Police Complaints Authority officers.

• Lloyd Owen as the brash Brice and Christine Tremarco as the fragile, easily led Jo were also stars in part one. But, alas, their part in the series is over after both were implicated directly in the death of the pusher.

• Jonas Armstrong, who played Pete, is a big star in the making.

• The dramatic device of entrapping all the protagonists in the police station, after the PCA ordered a “lockdown”, worked as the action became ever more claustrophobic as Amy learned just who had deceived her and why.

• It’s a drama on Channel 4, which is always embraced with the adoration of a grandmother seeing her grandchildren for the first time in over a year. But hopefully, this one will be given time to grow and flourish and not be butchered soon after its birth like Buried.

• The scene when the whole police station seemed to turn against Amy was reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers as they crowded her and vilified her for being separate from their cosseted clique.

What was bad about it?

• Amy’s introductory scene where the charming drugs pusher she’s just arrested listed all of her athletic qualities, which in turn revealed her attitudes towards such things as testosterone-driven competition. It was too economical and seemed staged with the artifice of a Marvel comic when the villain expounds: “Curse you, Jaguarman. With your infallible camouflage and furtive nature you surprised me and pinned me to the floor with your super-sharp claws.”

• The 118 118 ad break cameos. But if we urgently needed to get a phone number, guess which number we’d call?

• When Amy was under pressure from the PCA officers after they had identified her as the prime suspect and she then falsely accused them of sexual harassment she was thrown in a room by herself and the door was locked. But she didn’t then protest about the false imprisonment.

• The plotting was unconvincing at the crucial point of the first episode when Amy blithely coerced Jo, a wily copper who took part in interrogations, into revealing the location of the murdered pusher’s mobile phone.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

15/11/2005

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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