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TV review: Line Of Duty
Jed Mercurio's riveting - yet quite ridiculous - police corruption drama came to a close last night, but would bent copper DCI Gates get what was coming to him?
Amid all the drama, there was still a place for comedy in the shape of DI Buckles. Who came up with that name? It would be alright for an Enid Blyton book or an afternoon shift in Trumpton, but not a gritty police drama.
The saddest part of the series came when DCI Gates was forced to kill his doggy, alá Will Smith. 'I Am Gates' anyone?
As cliffhangers go, the extreme manicure climax in episode four was pretty steep, so we were delighted to be dropped straight back into the action last night. After four hours - and with some reluctance - we'd finally sided with DS Arnott.
He may have been a woefully naive tell-tale with a serious small-man complex, but Gates was clearly the villain of
"Line of Duty has been entertaining and captivating"
And then in the first minute of the final installment, everything changed. With one masterstroke, Tony Gates had us rooting for him again. How did he do it? He gave that horrendous 10 year-old a beating. If anyone deserved their comeuppance more than the fallen detective, it was that little BMX troll.
Before administering some long overdue street karma, Gates (Lennie James) also found the time to save Arnott (Martin Compston) who immediately developed a bit of a man-crush on his rescuer. Arnott had obviously forgotten that it was in fact Gates who had sold him to the bolt-cutter-wielding nutters less than five minutes earlier, but there we go.
Line of Duty has been entertaining and captivating, yet many plot jumps have been highly-tenuous and this was a fine example. Don't even get me started on the idea that a child could reach the top of a crime syndicate before hitting puberty..
"Half the officers on display were corrupt or incompetent"
Arnott's defining characteristic throughout had been his integrity and it all went out the window in seconds. I certainly felt DC Fleming's exasperation when he started mooning over Gates afterwards, yet while she was furious with her partner, my ire was with the script-writers. It was a lazy device to open with.
We could go on about the wild plot-holes of the series all night, but they don't take away from the fact that it's been a scintillating ride. Fine performances from Lennie James, Vicky McClure and a host of supporting cast members, not least Neil 'Policeman Behaving Badly' Morrissey, have made it easy to suspend plausibility.
It was refreshing to get a semi-original cop show and the premise was intriguing, even if it's been nearly as bad for
"The final twist was also tantalising and it leaves the programme open for a second series"
the police's image as the Ian Tomlinson case.
Half the officers on display were corrupt or incompetent and the Police Chief was more interested in crime stats than making a difference. For all the script's subtlety, CS Hilton may as well have been holding a sign saying "I represent bureaucracy!" but Mercurio's drama was a far blunter instrument than many others it's been compared to, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The final twist was also tantalising and it leaves the programme open for a second series. Let's hope those annoying documentary-style end captions don't put paid to that.
Line of Duty may have occasionally flirted with important points such as legal red-tape, the ambiguity of justice and finally the roots of crime, but unfortunately it didn't have the time or inclination to really expand upon them. Yet these are small gripes which shouldn't detract from a great series.
You've got to feel for the poor lad with learning difficulties though - he's still got Jacqueline Laverty lurking in his freezer!