Did we like it?
It’s a winner – with an inventive twist on conventional cop dramas and a great lead in John Simm, the 2006 Detective Chief Inspector in Manchester who is run over and wakes as a mere Detective Inspector in 1973.
What was good about it?
• There’s a bit of Doctor Who, a bit of The Sweeney, a touch of The Professionals and lots of mind-melting complications as Simm’s character Sam Tyler frets about being thrown back 33 years in time while trying to track down a killer (a tank-top wearing grebo who plays vinyl records really loud). It’s an interesting premise, pulled off in a Lost-like manner with lots of humour and attention to detail by writers Tony Jordan, Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham.
• A nifty back alley chase scene to start things off and a fine slo-mo leap over a desk towards the end
• John Simm is always great to watch, bringing quiet intensity to his roles. With a brain-hurting paradox to get his head around, his Sam Tyler is an intriguing character.
• Philip Glenister as violent, boozing DCI Gene Hunt – he’s not quite The Sweeney’s Regan, more The Shield’s Mackay with his “screw morality-catch the villain” police tactics. And he eats ‘oops for dinner.
• Humour such as “Where’s my PC terminal?” “Who? You want a constable up here?” and “I need a Virgin mobile.” “Don’t you start that sexy business with me, young man.”
• Liz White as the sweet WPC Annie Cartright, who is treated as eye candy by the detectives, apart from Tyler who values her loose grasp of psychology.
• Music by Cream and The Who
• The then-and-now comparisons game:
Then: wing collars, flares leather jacket; Now: stylish suits
Then: Ford Cortina Ghias and Rovers ; Now: jeeps
Then: sexism (women are just “skirt”); Now: women in senior positions
Then: 27p was worth nicking ; Now: 27p isn’t worth picking up
Then: Green Shield Stamps ; Now: credit cards
Then: police used hunches ; Now: police use DNA profiling and forensics
Then: patterned orange wallpaper ; Now: bland neutral colours
Then: a kick in the nuts; Now: psychiatric evaluation
Then: phones with a dial; Now: mobiles
Then: an eight-track system in the car; Now: an iPod on the dashboard
Then: police on bicycles or in panda cars with real sirens ; Now: police whizzing around in powerful cars with horrible sirens
Then: piles of crumpled files; Now: computerised records
Then: two weeks to process fingerprints; Now: instant information
Then: the test card came on when TV had nothing decent to show; Now: TV carries on long after it has run out of anything decent to show
What was bad about it?
• Tyler’s ‘what’s going on?’ desperation was a sometimes overblown, with lots of face bashing, anguished looks and hysterical shouting.
• Nelson the cheery Rasta publican is obviously the Huggy Bear of the piece, but he didn’t really ring true.
• Once the novelty factor has worn off, it may be tough for the writers to maintain our interest and avoid preposterousness.
• The first record Sam bought was Cars by Gar Numan