Let's set our guidelines. I'm reviewing a prequel to Prime Suspect. One that's set in 1973. What does it need to achieve? A damning indictment of sex discrimination and police culture of the period? No, that's been done. It's a stage setter, a picture of how the seeds were sown. Of how a twenty-something girl from a nice, middle-class background became the towering presence that was Helen Mirren. Job done. In ways I didn't see coming.
As a police procedural, it's above average but no more. The portrayal of 1973 is pretty damn' good (I was there) but the lame music video intros show a serious lack of confidence. Relax people, we get it and we don't need Slade to reinforce it.
There are some writing hiccups, as anyone watching the final episode of season one can attest. It may be inconvenient to have to explain how our heroine reaches the roof without tripping over her unconscious colleague or being shot by the armed and desperate bank robber but as writers you need to deal with it. Having our heroine magically appear on the roof isn't good enough. It's lazy and assumes that the audience doesn't care.
The actress who plays the "Jane"character has a difficult role. Although she's cast as the lead, her role is really a supporting one (shades of 70s sexism??) and all the more difficult for that. The angle is a necessary one to set us up for the second season and it takes an actress of strength to deliver. Stephanie Martini (a seriously Ian Fleming name!) delivers a low key, contained performance of great nuance. Much as Helen Mirren might have done.
I, for one, can't wait to see the next chapter of this story. It deserves a second season and perhaps some new recruits to the writing team.
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