Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the detectives. The Bill, Scott & Bailey, Wallander, DCI Banks and, currently, Law and Order Criminal Intent. They each have their own style – gritty, realistic drama (classic Bill), the brilliant detective with rubbish social skills (Wallander and Banks), the bizarre plot line. The latter depends on the skill of the writer to get the viewer to suspend belief – which I suppose is what all great drama does – the police procedural at its finest is, after all, the modern incarnation of the morality play.
Scott & Bailey (with the exception of series 5) works because of meticulous tightly drawn plots and brilliant writing – the inverse of the ludicrous Morse.
Law and Order works for the same reason, but can extend its range because it’s set in New York and people are prepared to believe that any plot line, however bizarre, might just be true – some are even based on true events.
Like many people, I’ve also been spent the last three Sunday evenings glued to A Very English Scandal – the Carry On meets Law and Order tale of Liberal Leader Jeremy Thorpe’s escape from official justice.
The outlandish plot, even it if had been relocated to the Big Apple, would have fallen at the first hurdle if it were not for the bizarre fact that it was based on real events.
The excellence of the production and Hugh Grant’s performance go without saying. The only disagreement is on the significance – the moral of the tale, if you like.