Blame VHS players. Before the boom of home video cameras in the 1980s, murder mysteries never lasted more than two hours.
It wasn’t until Inspector Morse came out in 1987 that long episodes became the norm – as ITV bosses rightly guessed that, with many viewers taping shows to watch later, two time is not too long.
The experiment proved too successful. Now, the majority of the channel’s crime series are 120-minute diaries, including commercials. And most don’t deserve it.
Some recent efforts, such as Professor T with Ben Miller or Roger Allam’s Murder in Provence, are just as broad. The characters are too light and the plot is too thin to sustain us for the duration of a football match plus injury time.
Others, such as Ridley earlier this month, require ruthless pruning. I want to cut out all of Adrian Dunbar’s nightclubs to begin with.
For quite different reasons, Karen Pirie (ITV) – a three-part series that follows a cold case investigation – also doesn’t fit the extra-long format. It’s a powerful story, with the instantly likable central character, the inexperienced but capable detective sergeant played by Lauren Lyle.
Lauren Lyle as DS Karen Pirie. Karen Pirie (ITV) – a three-part series that follows a cold case investigation – also doesn’t fit the extra-long format
Based on a novel by the queen of Scotland, Val McDermid, the script has many dialogues that cause strong reactions from us. When a drunken thug says to the night sky: ‘I just want to hurt someone’, we have no doubt that he will do exactly that – making the violence that follows all the more difficult. should be more serious.
And it was immediately apparent how deeply the force’s flagship brass was engulfed in skepticism when DS Pirie was chosen to reopen the high-profile murder hunt. One sexist senior officer commented: ‘I think it would help the optics if it was a female officer. . . ‘
Emer Kenny’s adaptation, who also plays Pirie’s best mate, River, handles flashbacks deftly. The story revolves around the murder of a maid in 1996 and the lives of the suspects 25 years later.
This double-barreled narrative hasn’t been done too well since Unforgotten, with Nicola Walker. But part of the reason Unforgotten is so good is that it follows a single investigation – in hour-long episodes.
Karen Pirie is also a single story, but bundling it into a two-hour trilogy is exhausting. We do not get the satisfaction of a solution to a complex mystery. Instead, we spent a whole Sunday evening building a scary ending.
The solution is simple, I suppose. Karen Pirie is so brilliant, the best new police movie this year. To enjoy it properly, all we had to do was record each episode and watch it for two nights, like we did with Morse.
James Nesbitt (left), who plays Tom Brannick, and Charlene McKenna (right), who plays Niamh McGovern, in Bloodlands
However, Bloodlands (BBC1) knows how to split the pie. James Nesbitt’s frenetic tale of a Belfast police assassin is spread over six gripping hour-long segments, each enough to keep our attention. Wherever DCI Tom Brannick went, there was a mob of armed policemen waiting for his orders. This time, half in black combat gear resembling Ninja warriors and the other in furry camouflage, slithered through the Northern Irish landscape like green yeast.
Nesbitt was enjoying himself, turning to a cold, glazed look as his eyes darted around in their sockets.
The flamboyant and self-disciplined man, he’s great when he’s nervous but brushes it off every time he realizes he’s capable of giving himself away. Bloodlands is schlock, but it is addictive schlock.
Source: | Dailymail.co.uk