Tag Archive: police procedural


Review by C.J. Bunce

In its second season, Scotland’s crime drama Traces is continuing down the path where other great British series have missed the mark.  Unforgotten betrayed its heroine in its last season, loading on so much darkness, challenges, and losses, the writers let the forces of evil and real-life struggles beat down what was a superb, brilliant detective.  Traces is challenging its two masterminds of mystery solving: Laura Fraser (A Knight’s Tale, Doctor Who, Breaking Bad)‘s arson expert and professor Sarah Gordon, and Jennifer Spence‘s (Supernatural, Continuum, Stargate, Tru Calling) equally brilliant professor and scientist sleuth Kathy Torrance.  But in this series it’s the challenges that make its lead characters really shine.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

After a twelve-year break, the best, award-winning police procedural and crime drama is back.  For twenty seasons Law & Order delivered the best “ripped from the headlines” twists and turns, featuring the best shifting casts, long-term regulars, and returning characters.  Its split episode format with two detectives and assistant district attorneys blended the best of all the cop shows before or since with the #1 series ever created about lawyering (it helped get me through criminal procedure in law school two decades ago, and I’ve seen each of its 456 original episodes at least four times).  Well, now the best is back, with a mix of familiar faces and some promising new ones, beginning with this week’s first episode of its 21st season, a twist on the infamous Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein cases.  It’s the return of the best two assistant district attorneys in the history of the show.  And it hasn’t changed a bit–a good thing–like the series kept going after we last watched it way back in 2010.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Call it an “upstairs/downstairs” police procedural.  Britbox’s newest original series, The Tower, follows a team of detectives investigating their fellow coppers after an incident on a London rooftop goes horribly awry, resulting in the death of a civilian and a veteran beat cop.  In three short episodes, the story grows increasingly complex as secrets are revealed, careers unravel, and conflicting loyalties test every character.  The British ITV series is now streaming on BritBox via Amazon.

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Mystery Road c

Review by C.J. Bunce

Interesting commonality can be found in the first seasons of two supernatural series, Starz’ 2020 supernatural series The Gloaming, set in Tasmania, and the old Australian town-based 2015 Netflix series Glitch, and a third series, the 2018 Australian outback Western Mystery Road, now streaming on Acorn.  Each of these series is anchored by police procedural stories led by male and female leads, and strong leads at that.  Each of these straightforward stories could be spliced into any time period, as components of countless cop shows.  But the real value of each series is the unique setting.  Like the unusual nature of filming a British cop show in the stark, remote north Great Britain in Shetland, here viewers are transported closer to the southern pole.  There viewers will find the commonality of a shared past with England, the common language, and the colonial history that forms an active wrench in the relationships between different peoples still today.  In Mystery Road, it’s illustrated by the obvious physical differences and characteristics of the loose cannon, cowboy hat-wearing, Western style (with Aussie flare), indigenous Detective Jay Swan, played by Aaron Pedersen (also co-star of The Gloaming) and the confident and wise older local cop, Emma James, played by twice Oscar-nominated actress Judy Davis (A Passage to Indie, Ratched, Impromptu). 

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las-finest-season-2-trailer

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

You don’t need to be familiar with the Bad Boys franchise to love L.A.′s Finest, the two-season 2019-2020 series that missed most of its audience by streaming first exclusively on Spectrum’s cable platform.  Sure, it’s technically a spinoff of the raunchy buddy cop flicks starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  Yes, Gabrielle Union reprises her role as Syd Burnett (sister of Lawrence’s character), a former DEA agent turned L.A. detective.  But this sharply-written action comedy cop show, with a leading duo that parallels both the drama and the antics of Smith and Lawrence, has much more going for it than its big brother movie series.  Starring Union (Bad Boys II, The Lion Guard) and Jessica Alba (Dark Angel, Fantastic Four) as ex-U.S. Navy intelligence expert, now detective Nancy McKenna, wisecracking partners in the Bad Boys mold, the series moves from its Miami roots to Los Angeles, and digs into local culture, politics, and above all, crime.  That’s really all you need to know about the show, whose 26 episodes at last made it to Netflix this summer.

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Professor T

Review by C.J. Bunce

PBS is now airing a six-episode mystery series starring Ben Miller, best known for playing the first detective of many on the series Death in Paradise, an actor whose television work goes back to the early 1990s, including even a small role on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  Miller plays Professor Jasper Tempest, the title character of Professor T, a British adaptation of a Belgian series about a quirky, obsessive, compulsive detective in the style of Adrian Monk, Prodigal Son’s Malcolm Bright, and Sherlock Holmes himself.  The series airs weekly Sundays on PBS, also available to stream in its entirety with a PBS Passport subscription.  Will this be another short-lived British police procedural, or can it survive in the ocean of similar series to find a second season?

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Bay one

Review by C.J. Bunce

You’ve probably seen the ads on your streaming platform and social media.  We had too, so when Britbox announced a second season of The Bay we decided to give it a try.  It’s a British police procedural, with a twist.  Star Morven Christie (Death in Paradise, Doctor Who) plays detective Lisa Armstrong, a family liaison officer (“FLO”) with the Morcambe police.  Morcambe is the eponymous Bay, a seaside town on England’s northwest coast, nearish to Manchester (setting of several great British crime dramas, like Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, and Cracker), and while the show’s cinematography makes great use of picturesque vistas of the local scenery and landmarks, including some spectacular sunsets, the city doesn’t really feel like a character here.  Instead, the focus of the series is families: DI Armstrong’s, and those affected by crime.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Just when you thought Nicola Walker′s (Collateral, Law & Order: UK, Luther) compassionate cop Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart is fed up with humanity–with the criminals that have gotten away with murder literally for decades and the antics of her family at home–they keep pulling her back in, with two more seasons in the works, and the fourth season hopefully arriving in the U.S. this year.  We reviewed the first season of the BBC’s Unforgotten here at borg just last month, and we’re happy to report the series only improves in the next two seasons.  The first three seasons are on BritBox via Amazon Prime, and if you want your fill of red herrings and surprise villains in your modern British crime drama, look no further.  With its fifth season currently in production, PBS is also now streaming the first three seasons as part of its Passport membership, a chance for U.S. viewers to get caught up on the show before the new episodes arrive.

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UNFORGOTTEN: LE PASSE DETERRE

Review by C.J. Bunce

British crime dramas deserve some credit as a group–and PBS Masterpiece for re-airing them.  Viewers never quite know what hoops the police will jump through next, the twists and turns a series will take, and what unlikely villain will end up at the end of each whodunnit.  That’s the test of all mystery series, whether you’re watching a strange villain and almost as strange cop in Luther or the tempered, well-intentioned Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart and her skeptical partner Detective Sergeant Sunny Khan tracking down 40-year-old crimes in Unforgotten.  With its fifth season currently in production, PBS is now streaming the first three seasons as part of its Passport membership, a chance for U.S. viewers to get caught up on the show.

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Grace d

Review by C.J. Bunce

The star of the original Life on Mars is back as a detective solving crimes in the new BritBox original series from IPT, Grace John Simm, also known for his run on Doctor Who, State of Play and other British dramas plays Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a cop sent down to desk duty a few years ago for embarrassing the bureau by bringing in a psychic to help solve a crime.  When a former colleague rises up the ranks and pulls D.S. Grace in to a high-profile case, viewers get to meet the next great TV detective.  The first episode of Grace is now streaming in the U.S. exclusively here on BritBox via Amazon.

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