What I thought about: Criminal (UK) (Season 2)

I couldn’t wait to get started on the second season of this gripping police interview drama. It’s a testament to the quality of acting in this show that I remained captivated for the entire runtime despite all the action taking place between a few actors in a small room.

It’s not all finger-wagging, I promise.

What’s it about?
A special unit of the police (we assume in London), practice unorthodox interview techniques in order to tease out a confession or some other crucial information from their subjects. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the CIA, there’s no waterboarding, it’s purely psychological. Things like padding a medical examiner’s report with blank paper and slamming it down on the table to make it seem important. Playing good cop bad cop. Selectively choosing who asks what question. These all add up to mount pressure on the subject and get them to give in.

This season includes Kit Harrington (accused of rape) and Kunal Nayyar (convicted but suspected of a second murder) among a pair of slightly lesser-known actors for a total of four episodes, one more than last time.

What do I like about it?
The acting is incredible, as indeed its has to be. Armed with viewer’s foresight (for we know that something is going to happen due to the nature of the show), you can really appreciate the skilful writing and acting. The team pick up on a fairly obvious moment in episode one, where the interviewee Julia (not a suspect!) launches into a mini tirade and yells out about facts that only the killer would know. But there was something much more subtle earlier on. She asks if her husband (convicted murderer, and suspect of a second murder) had been charged for the it. “Not yet”, comes Detective Constable Vanessa Warren’s reply. Julia lets out a deep sigh and puts her hands to her face. “When will it end?” she says, ostensibly referring to the misery of being married to a murderer.

Now, why would she do that? If she was innocent, I’d argue the response would be more like ‘oh’, or the question wouldn’t even be asked. What she’s doing is checking in on the investigation into the second murder, to see if she’s gotten away with it. When she learns he hasn’t been charged, it means she’s still at a degree of risk. The fact that this is acted out, but is never referred to again for the rest of the episode, demonstrates the show’s the attention to detail. Detail that’s necessary to make such a slow burning, single-room drama so gripping.

What do I not like about it?
Why are the police staff so limp outside the interview room? Inside, they are powerful and cunning, and have a way with words that makes even the most hardened criminal slowly crumble. But outside it – in the corridors of the station – they buy drinks from vending machines and throw little paper balls into tiny bins, letting out a depressive sigh when they inevitably miss. I’m not sure I get what the writers are going for here.

Also, as a lawyer myself, I can’t help but question the way the solicitors – who are sometimes also present in the room – just sit back and let the police’s line of questioning happen. They do speak up at times (they’re not totally silent!) but you just know that if this were real the solicitor would be reading out a statement and advising their client to reply with ‘no comment’.

Worth a watch?
You have to appreciate that it is literally just people talking in a room. Sit through absolutely any episode in the first or second season – they’re all good – and if you liked it, carry on. If you didn’t, it’s probably not for you.

By the way…

  • The first season launched simultaneously with editions in France, Germany, and Spain, all with their own plots and local actors…
  • …But the UK show was the only one to be renewed for a second season.

674w (sorry!)

What I thought about: Paradise PD (Season 2)

Kinda like Family Guy but it’s about incompetent police and there’s way, way more toilet humour and graphic animation. This show isn’t for everyone, and to be honest, most of the time it genuinely isn’t funny

Whatever you’re thinking, the answer is yes

What’s it about?
Should I even be answering this question? The show is barely coherent. It’s loosely based around an incompetent police department who are battling a drug crisis.

Every character is horrible in some way. The chief is highly strung, the best person at being a police officer is sexually obsessed with a comically obese colleague, the police dog is a drug addict, an OAP cop who can’t retire as they can’t afford his pension is a massive pervert, and the chief’s son gets into a relationship with a car.

Oh yeah, see how I just snuck that last part in there? Yeah that’s probably not even the worst thing that happens in the show. Not even close.

There is a little plot development as the team try their hardest to uncover the ‘Kingpin’ who is in charge of producing and selling the local Argyle Meth. But otherwise, it’s just a slapstick, very dirty gag cartoon show.

What do I like about it?
Alright, some things are funny. The animation is also well done, and there are some good pop culture references. The show’s second season is a technical improvement on the first, even if…

What do I not like about it?
…the writing is definitely worse. I could just be forgetting the first season, which I saw over a year ago, but my god is this show crass. You have to have a certain sense of humour to even watch the show, and then I can’t really bring up any specific part I liked because it’s just so forgettable.

Worth a watch?
Not unless you like South Park and don’t mind seeing some very messed up cartoon animation. When I say the OAP cop is perverted, I really mean it.

By the way…

  • The show is seen as the spiritual successor to Brickleberry, another cartoon produced by the same people but with a park ranger setting.
  • There are two fewer episodes in Season 2. It’s probably for the best.