Who doesn't love a good police procedural every now and again? The long-running staple of television, the very bread and butter of prime time, police procedurals practically dominate the ratings and often breed spin-offs that set the same formula in a different city or department (with the occasional guest crossover, of course). So when I sat down with Season 2 of ITV's series Blue Murder (just released on DVD by Acorn Media), I knew I would be able to watch it (the formula's actually a bit hard to futz up) but my real question was: What could I say about it once it was done?
As popular as they are, procedurals mostly come across as cotton candy entertainment. A moment of flavor on the tongue, but nothing substantial that stays with you. In fact, part of the attraction to a procedural is the fact that you can turn one on half-way through and be completely caught up with the story within three minutes tops. But not so with Blue Murder, which is one of the more engrossing procedurals that's come my way in recent years.
Spurning the modern trend of forensic-evidence-focused shows, Blue Murder is a return to the style of good old-fashioned police work. There are many times in episodes when they have to wipe the slate clean and go back to square one, finding a brand new way for the evidence to go together. The show is entirely about the legwork. Interviews, brainstorming, false leads... it is a show about chronicling the frustrating task of trying to catch a murderer.
But what makes the show even more enjoyable is that every episode feels radically different than the one before it. Rather than adhering to a tried-and-true formula, every crime is different, with a different vibe, a different theme, a different overall feel to each investigation. Within the span of four episodes we go from a murdered three-year-old dominating the news, to the murder of an on-duty policeman, to the discovery of a two-year-old murder case, to a bizarre case with two dozen people claiming responsibility. The only thing linking the episodes is the intriguing cast of characters doing all the legwork.
If the show has one flaw, it is the occasional attempt to insert the daily life of the single-mom chief investigator main character. While it certainly helps set the show apart from others, it feels a little too forced -- as if this concept was part of the initial pitch to get the show on television, and gets time only to keep the higher-ups happy. Occasionally, the home life mirrors the case at hand, but usually they are just minute-long breathers between one plot thread and another.
Each episode clocks in at about 70 minutes, serving as its own mini movie rather than the more common 42-minute wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am thrillers offered by American prime time. And with each one feeling like its own film, this two disc, four-episode set will provide far more than just an evenings' entertainment. This comes recommended to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or crime drama. I'll certainly be sitting down to enjoy these again some time soon.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me