Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Killers and Coppers Run Riot in a Bloody Battle of the Sexes; TV WATCH

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Killers and Coppers Run Riot in a Bloody Battle of the Sexes; TV WATCH

Article excerpt


Trial and Retribution ITV Waking the Dead BBC1

THE WAR against crime, which endlessly enlivens our TV screens, contains within it an increasingly intriguing battle of the sexes. This thought was prompted by witnessing the emotional turmoil which engulfed the main characters in both Trial and Retribution and Waking the Dead which, to continue the theme of conflict, were fighting it out for exactly the same set of viewers last night (and will again tonight).

The former is the brainchild of Lynda La Plante, the lady who brought us Prime Suspect, in which Helen Mirren took on a whole world of ignorant coppers and gave them a beating despite being two-thirds of the way inside a vodka bottle.

Trial and Retribution offers us a younger and less complex version of DI Jane Tennison in the shape of DCI Roisin Connor, played by Victoria Smurfit.

Most of the trials in her working life are provided not by those who break the law in a series of outlandish ways, but by the antics of her boss DCS Mike Walker, a notable creation by David Hayman.

Walker is a man possessed by demons, the most notable of which are a broken marriage and a disturbed son. Without a shred of shame, he duly brings his problems to work and dutifully unloads them in front of his horrified staff, sometimes after having consumed the required amount of whisky to put a passionate Scotsman in a rage.

Years of exposure to the bleak winds of criminal activity have given his whole head an ascetic look, hair shaved to the skull and cheekbones posturing provocatively as if in search of a decent fist fight.

Yet in the feisty Connor, Walker has met his match.

She, too, is possessed of uncompromising cheekbones and eyes that flash warning sparks at the first hint of confrontation.

The activities of the serial killer - that ever-reliable plot device for providing a steady stream of bodies without much need for tedious explanation until right at the end when everyone has ceased caring - are a secondary attraction to the main bout.

Walker is a consummate detective with a keen brain and uncanny grasp of detail, yet a man with evident fault lines etched all over his face giving warning of the dangerous levels of pressure just below the surface.

Connor is nowhere near as proficient - indeed, she has great trouble keeping her mobile phone in operation - but has the fierce inner certainty of one who knows they are on the side of the angels.

Thus the great attraction of Trial and Retribution is in watching these two attempting to solve serious puzzles of antisocial behaviour, while refraining from beating each other to a pulp.

The only other possible way of easing the tensions between them would be for Mike and Roisin to end up in bed. …

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