Sunday, March 19, 2006

Between the Lines

I’ve just finished watching the second season collection of Island World’s Between the Lines, and just wanted to recommend it to any of you who might not have caught it the first time around, in 1993, or anytime since.

Detective Superintendent Tony Clark (Neil Pearson), heads a team in the Complaints Investigation Bureau of the Metropolitan Police. In the first series, we witnessed the disintegration of his marriage through serial infidelity, the suicide of his tribunal terrified girlfriend, and the arrest of his boss Chief Superintendent Deakin (the late Tony Doyle) on corruption charges.

As gritty as that sounds, the second series is an even darker, and altogether dirtier affair than its predecessor. The first series, in spite of Clark’s sordid private life, had a strong moral tone, and showed our guys more often than not making the case and "doing the legs" of a score of bent coppers. Series two is a more typical product of late Tory Britain. Every case is wash-out. Political pressure for fast action and quick fixes in corruption cases result in slap-dash work and the bad guys getting away with it every time. Murky operations by Special Branch and the Home Office make it impossible to distinguish corruption from expediency. Tony's bosses take more interest in climbing the greasy pole than prosecuting cases. Institutional sexism and racism cause instances of persecution and whistle-blowing to go unexamined.

In short, this set is far more thematically coherent than series one; the show is no longer about catching crooks, but about how a broken system creates disillusion, defeat and disgust in those struggling to uphold it. By the final episode, all the main players are in places you couldn’t have imagined in the first, every step toward compromise and transgression perfectly choreographed by creator J.C. Wilsher.

It’s a really powerful piece of television; tightly written, meticulously crafted - seemingly trivial character-based subplots take on completely unexpected significance as the season develops - and certainly the high water mark of Pearson’s career to date. I suggest picking it up whenever you can.

Category: Movies and TV

No comments:

Post a Comment