LINE OF DUTY: Tuesday 26th June, BBC2, 9pm
Thereâs a very subtle difference between American and British crime-dramas. In the US, for example, shows tend to focus on hotshot cops who donât play by the rules. Whereas officers in our crime-dramas tend to have a bit more class. Naturally they donât play by the rules, but they do, to their credit, fill out the necessary paperwork to cover their asses when they donât play by the rules.
This is very much how Line of Dutyâs Tony Gates operates, a detective with, weâre told, the best crime figures in the force. Heâs highly respected in his line of work, but heâs also a maverick whoâs not afraid to slap a hoody about a bit or sleep with someone who isnât his wife.
As DS Steve Arnott the head of the anti-corruption unit puts it, âNo oneâs 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 daughterâs piano playing. Then, within the space of just a few hours, heâs feigning something else: this time an absurd âOW 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 heâs 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.
Itâs not the most original premise for a crime-drama, but Line of Duty, created by Jed Mercurio (Bodies), isnât as dreadfully predictable as it sounds at first. The plot makes enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, and Lennie Jamesâ performance as Gates reveals the character to be something more than simply a clichÃ©d cop who doesnât 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 havenât seen before.