30 November 2007 | Thorsten-Krings
Very good police procedural
John Creasy left a still uncharted ouevre of well over 500 books. Given that number it's not surprising that some of them are of indifferent quality. The Gideon series to me were his strongest books: Creasy is one of the few authors who can write realistic police procedurals from the point of view of a manager rather than the ordinary copper. Gideon is not only in charge of solving crime but also encounters leadership issues and has a lively and large family. This makes the books original reading. Plus in the Gideon books there is interesting comment on the state of the nation- hardly surprising when you know that Creasy was head of a political movement in the 60s. The TV series takes many elements of the books. Needless to say that the 40/45 minutes format does not manage to present a variety of cases at a given moment but rather one case per episode. The interstinmg thing about the series is that within this format there are hardly any flat characters particularly amongst the bad guys. Although there is no sympathy there is a lotof empathy in the complex character sketches: check out the episodes "White Rat" with a great performance by Ray Mcanally as psychotic albino gangster or the episode about a former concentration camp inmate. That's what makes the series so special, this wealth of character. I think only The Sweeney ever managed to get anywhere near that. The stories are well paced, well told and there is an amazing array of really great actors in this series. The other thing is that in view of censorship in the 60s Gideon's Way is quite amazingly open and realistic (particularly compared to US stuff of the time). What really impressed me was the stark contrast of the "new" London of the 1960s and the squalor some people were still living in at the time (Creasy points that out in Gideon's Fire) and the enormous social change going on at the time. My favourite episode is "The thin red line" -not based on a Creasy novel- which is both a fairly touching story but also a scalding satire on the army.