Line of Duty Episode One Review

LINE OF DUTY: Tuesday 26th June, BBC2, 9pm

There’s a very subtle difference between American and British crime-dramas. In the US, for example, shows tend to focus on hotshot cops who don’t play by the rules. Whereas officers in our crime-dramas tend to have a bit more class. Naturally they don’t play by the rules, but they do, to their credit, fill out the necessary paperwork to cover their asses when they don’t play by the rules.

This is very much how Line of Duty’s Tony Gates operates, a detective with, we’re told, the best crime figures in the force. He’s highly respected in his line of work, but he’s also a maverick who’s not afraid to slap a hoody about a bit or sleep with someone who isn’t his wife.

As DS Steve Arnott the head of the anti-corruption unit puts it, “No one’s that good!â€? With his karate-like moves, Gates can pry a knife from the hands of an irate chav and feign enthusiasm for his daughter’s piano playing. Then, within the space of just a few hours, he’s feigning something else: this time an absurd “OW YEAH!â€?-style expression as his mistress, Jackie, performs fellatio on him.

Jackie plays a big part in this first episode of five. She commits a crime and Gates attempts to cover it up for her, though he’s in two minds where or not he should help her. Doing so could bring him down with her and with Arnott on his back things are bound to be risky.

As the episode progress, Arnott soon finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game as he slowly comes close to unearthing Gates’ many secrets.

It’s not the most original premise for a crime-drama, but Line of Duty, created by Jed Mercurio (Bodies), isn’t as dreadfully predictable as it sounds at first. The plot makes enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, and Lennie James’ performance as Gates reveals the character to be something more than simply a clichéd cop who doesn’t play by the rules.

Even so, viewers expecting anything truly innovative will be disappointed. Line of Duty is compelling, but it is, regrettably, just another British crime-drama, like practically all the other British crime-dramas. If you enjoyed The Shadow Line, this is more of the same: a twisting, cynical thriller about police corruption. Episode one of the series is entertaining, but nothing viewers haven’t seen before.