Contains spoilers for the aired episode.
At last, an episode of Doctor Who series 8 that isn’t going to take a long, detailed treatise to review but can instead be covered succinctly and concisely in just a few paragraphs. That’s because “Time Heist”, the fifth outing for Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, foregoes the usual series arc connections and deep psychological insights and instead delivers purely and simply what it promises in the title: a rollicking bank heist adventure story, delivered with the appropriate timey-wimey layer of shenanigans to make the whole thing authentically Who.
For reasons unknown even to himself, the Doctor and Clara (Jenna Coleman) have agreed to participate in a raid on the most secure bank in the universe along with two other individuals with unique talents, shapeshifter Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and tech-augmented hacker Psi (Broadchurch’s Jonathan Bailey). They’re pitted against the bank’s merciless director of security Miss Delphox (Line of Duty’s Keeley Hawes in deliciously icy villainess mode) who has at her disposal the services of The Teller, an alien telepath who can hunt down any guilty thoughts and then administer a quite shockingly gruesome punishment when called for. But the Doctor and his team themselves have help from someone who seems able to know exactly what tools to give them at any given moment in order to succeed… Read the rest of this entry »
I hadn’t realised until I saw the publicity for series 2 that the original run of Line of Duty that aired last July had been the most watched original new drama on BBC2 for ten years: I suspect this achievement was subsequently eclipsed by the even bigger success of The Fall, but that merely serves to put it into even more impressive company as far as I’m concerned.
It’s a quick return for writer/creator Jed Mercurio’s police drama, but it immediately seems a very different beast. The first season was essentially a head-to-head confrontation between Tony Gates – a wildly successful, popular and charismatic Detective Chief Inspector played by Lennie James – and AC-12 anti-corruption officer DS Steve Arnott who was out to prove Gates complicit in ilegal activity and bring him down with the help of DC Kate Fleming. The structure of the original six-parter was evenly split between the characters of Gates and Arnott, with the audience invited to make up their own minds as to which – if either – was on the side of the angels. Gates, after all, brought down the bad guys while Arnott was using the absurdly Kafka-esque police procedures and health and safety regulations to entangle him over seemingly petty transgressions.
While the character of Gates does not return for season 2 for reasons obvious to anyone who saw the first series, Arnott (Martin Compston) and Fleming (Vicky McClure) are back along with their boss Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and new recruit DC Georgia Trotman (Jessica Raine from Call the Midwife, An Adventure in Space and Time and Doctor Who episode “Hide”) and this time the target of their investigation is DI Lindsay Denton played by Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes, Spooks). Unlike the first season, in this story Denton is no obvious hero and indeed is a complete enigma to us: this time we are firmly in Arnott and company’s shoes in trying to figure out just what is going on and who exactly is responsible. That makes this Line of Duty in many ways a more traditional and conventional type of crime thriller, but at least that means it has also dropped its slightly tiresome soapbox preaching about the unfair burdens of paperwork and overbearing scrutiny that the police toil under. Anything that it might have lost is more than made up by the shock-upon-shock developments of season 2, which instantly grip us by the throat and refuse to let go. Read the rest of this entry »