Wlisted here are French and Saunders whenever you want them? Certainly no TV drama lately has been so ripe for a spoof than Line of Duty – maybe Daybreak and Jennifer as Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming, exchanging covert glances and conversing fully in acronyms. Or Jen as Ted, spewing forth the gaffer’s legendary colloquialisms (“Mom of God! I don’t float up the lagoon on a bubble”, and so forth). I imply all this as a praise, after all, since you don’t get parodied till you’re an establishment, which is what Line of Responsibility appears to have turn out to be during the last six weeks.
However has it gone a bit, nicely, OTT on this newest sequence? Sunday’s feature-length finale summed up for me the sequence’ strengths and weaknesses – the primary power being the super-extended interview scenes between Anna Maxwell Martin’s Carmichael, all pretend smiles, and Adrian Dunbar’s more and more forlorn Ted Hastings. I timed these head-to-heads: they lasted 45 minutes – fairly extraordinary for a modern-day TV drama.
This intense and intimate hyper-realism sits considerably awkwardly beside what occurred subsequent – half slasher film (rogue WPC Tina attacking the unmasked Gill with a knife within the ladies’s bogs; all we lacked was Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho rating) and half Agatha Christie whodunnit, as Steve lastly twigged what the dying “Dot” Cottan (Craig Parkinson) was doing along with his fingers. Sure, Dot’s digits have been telling us that there was a fourth corrupt police officer nonetheless at massive – and subsequently a sixth sequence of Line of Responsibility. I hope actor Parkinson is receiving residuals.
So, we nonetheless don’t know the id of “H” – it has turn out to be a nationwide guessing recreation now. Going into the ultimate episode, loads of viewers have been wagering that authorized counsel Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker) was a nasty’un – if not the last word dangerous’un – in order that didn’t come as a lot of a shock. It was absolutely by no means going to be Ted, who would possibly as nicely have been strolling round with an indication on his head studying “crimson herring”.
Anyway, after 5 sequence, sure LoD tropes have established themselves. That Stephen Graham’s rogue undercover cop was knocked off on the finish of episode 4, for instance, wasn’t an enormous shock, provided that author Jed Mercurio has kind in dispatching his high-profile visitor stars at sudden moments (and never simply in Line of Responsibility – see Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard for additional particulars).
The raid on the police convoy in episode one appeared unoriginal, echoing the convoy ambush in sequence two, whereas the necessity to tie up free ends wasn’t at all times passable: Ted disposing of his laptop computer as a result of he’d been watching porn (and nothing unlawful at that), for instance, or the AC-12 workplace changing into a haven for physique snatchers.
I fairly like that Line of Responsibility isn’t set wherever specifically, however that does add to the sense of dislocation, of a world not fairly related to our world. One the place, for instance, the Residence Secretary wouldn’t turn out to be embroiled in a £50m theft from a police depot or the homicide of three policemen, and the media seem just about non-existent, whereas the uncommon incursions into the primary characters’ non-public lives appear cursory. Ted’s time in Northern Eire grew to become pivotal, however the truth that Kate was by no means house to tuck the children into mattress… will we care?
Don’t get me fallacious, Line of Responsibility stays an exhilarating white-knuckle journey, however I do not assume that the present – though clever – is as profound or related because the work of Mercurio’s predecessors. GF Newman’s Regulation and Order, for instance, or Troy Kennedy Martin’s Fringe of Darkness. Neither is it nearly as good because the drama it most resembles, JC Wilsher’s 1990s police corruption saga Between the Strains (by the way made by the identical manufacturing firm as Line of Responsibility).
Nonetheless, that is peerlessly visceral leisure, and the place the author goes with sequence six, I’m nonetheless agog to seek out out. It’s sure to be ingenious and considerably implausible. And we’ll nonetheless have Ted, Steve and Kate. That’s, till we don’t. As Adrian Dunbar informed me, “the very first thing you do with the script is examine you’re not lifeless”.