Did we like it?
Not much. It’s like The Bill with swankier production values, lower moral values and loads of cardboard cutout characters who are very good at RAISING THEIR VOICES but no good at engaging viewers.
What was good about it?
• Full marks for mystically tapping in to two of the weekend’s big news stories – the abduction of a girl and a domestic incident in which a gun was used. If this hadn’t been BBC1’s big new drama hope, we reckon they’d have dropped the programme in one of those outbursts of over-sensitivity broadcasters indulge in from time to time.
• The only character we really liked was PC Clifton, but that’s probably because he’s played by the sexy Keiran O’Brien and was in a state of undress in his first scene.
• Richard Harrington played the only other character with credibility, newcomer DS Luke French, a cop with brains and the ability to use rational thoughts rather than fists and bad language. But he’s immediately thrown into a chalk-and-cheese working relationship and is almost rendered pointless.
• It looked good in a Hill Street Blues-crossed-with-Spooks way. Too good for the mundanity of the action.
What was bad about it?
• We hated the ratings-grabbing ploys of using paedophilia and the “war on terror” as hooks. To make it worse, the paedophile storyline was lazy, with a nasty looking bloke lurking in bushes with a bag of sweeties, and the “war on terror” (including footage of the Twin Towers crumbling) was only used to make a political point that cops are so busy tackling terrorism that every woman who goes to the chippie will probably get raped.
• Kacey Ainsworth is no Roberta Taylor and her stern but fair Inspector Jenny Black is a far cry from The Bill’s Gina Gold.
• Cal Macaninch was just shouty and louty as DI John Keenan (the poor man’s Gene Hunt for whom the rulebook is there to be ripped up not adhered to), Zoe Lucker was Tanya Turner without the fags as John’s estranged wife Kate, and Tim Pigott-Smith, a truly accomplished actor, was so wasted as DCI Harry Hutchinson, who popped up to be a bit annoyed from time to time (“I want a full report on my desk before you leave tonight.”).
• In a sea of predictability, nothing was more annoying than the story in which probationer PC Lucy Slater (Elaine Glover) started off a blundering fool who couldn’t even eat a cream cake properly, got called a lesbian because she objected to having her bottom patted, and ended up nicking the nasty paedophile.
• The cameo appearance by Charlie Fairhead was so wooden it was like one of those Footballers’ Wives sequences when someone real stumbles into the show.
• The sex scene involving John Keenan (“like a virgin again”) and grinning CPS siren Sara Powell was as unwelcome as a paedophile with a bag of sweeties.