Ten Minutes on… Line of Duty Series 2

lineofdutyWell, I don’t think anyone expected that.

The first series of Line of Duty, Jed Mercurio’s BBC2 cops-investigating-cops drama was a good show with some great character writing and shocking moments. It was a pleasant surprise to discover it was getting a second season.

Along comes the second series and the whole thing goes stellar, to the point where tonight’s final episode is getting the full no-clips-in-the-trailers locked box treatment. It’s a show that has gained tremendous momentum over its five episodes, the ratings rising as the word-of-mouth drives people to catch up on iPlayer then start watching the episodes on broadcast. I suspect it’s clearly going to be massively influential on how BBC2 approaches drama, especially with BBC3 drama disappearing in the near future.

So why the big deal? There are a few easy things to point to – a career elevating BAFTA worthy performance from Keeley Hawes, playing the polar opposite to the sympathetic lead roles she’s often played before, making DI Lindsey Denton a terrifying, determined bruiser who you absolutely would not want to fuck with. The rest of the cast are great, and the whole production is slick and fast moving, very well-directed.

But at the base is a stellar script that throws in massive plot twists and shocks while still being rooted in the believable. Mercurio’s specialty as a writer is that, as an ex-doctor, he has an instinctive and detailed understanding of what it’s like to do a big, serious public service job where lives are in the balance. He understands the internal tensions of the characters, and he understands the bureaucratic framework that drives, constrains, frustrates and occasionally protects the people who work in that system. Line of Duty has the same feeling of researched authenticity that The Wire had, but without breaking that grounded feel it also has big thriller moments. People do bad, desperate, very violent things but the story never descends into an action fantasy shootout.

9pm, BBC2 tonight. See you on the other side.

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March 19, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized.

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