Review: New Blood (S1 E1/7), Thursday 9th June, BBC1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 24/05/2016 - Programme Name: New Blood - TX: 09/06/2016 - Episode: New Blood Episode 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: IMAGE UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 24 MAY 2016 Rash (BEN TAVASSOLI) - (C) Eleventh Hour Films Ltd - Photographer: Des Willie

(C) Eleventh Hour Films Ltd – Photographer: Des Willie

Anthony Horowitz’s last British crime drama was Foyle’s War, and slipped nicely into that cosy, period Sunday-night ITV aesthetic. His new project – this contemporary seven-parter – couldn’t be more different. It’s tells the story of two young, male coppers who are thrust together on a case that had its genesis in India. It’s a loud, pacy affair with mobile phones and webcams and all sorts. Not sure what Christopher Foyle would think of it all.

It all starts off in breathless fashion, on the streets of an unnamed Indian city. We’re treated to infectious bhangra music, choppy edits, street food, bustling streets, colour and zippy effects. Then we see a group of British tourists enter a pharmaceutical company, Green Fern, all allowing themselves to take part in a medical trial in return for cash that would help them with their travelling budget. Unfortunately one of the experimentees goes loco, wandering trance-like through the pristine chrome-laden corridors. He ends up stabbing one of the doctors, a spray of blood splattering a Green Fern sign.

Fast forward to London and we meet Arrash ‘Rash’ Syed, an eager and eagle-eyed young copper who’s working on what looks like a suicide detail in the pouring rain. Around him are gravel-voiced, wizened, cynical superiors who don’t listen to some of Rash’s observations. When they find evidence on the top of the building the victim apparently threw himself off that marked the incident down as murder, they start listening.

Elsewhere, we meet young Serious Fraud Office investigator Steffan Kowolski, who’s undercover at a medical firm trying to crack their corruption.

It’s obvious that these two will, eventually, work together and as the original members of the medical experiment start getting bumped off one by one we’re being set up for a very high-concept but enjoyable thriller. Perhaps even the kind of old-school buddy cop show that we haven’t seen in the UK for quite a while. The US do things like Castle, Rosewood and Rizzoli & Isles very, very well, so it’s surprising that this country has a problem with modern, sparky relationship crime dramas.

The trouble was with New Blood is that it took way too long to bring these two confident, swaggering fellows together. I understand the need to set things up, but after that impressive, zingy opening in India it took its foot off the pedal and stagnated for a while. Add to that some almost laughably clichéd characters (especially the cynical coppers who were constantly shown up by their whippersnapper newbies) and I should have hated New Blood.

But I didn’t. I mean, it wasn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination. What might keep me watching is the plot and the promise that once these two do properly start working together sparks might fly. When the two do bash heads – racing against each other in what looked like a duathlon after Steffan had hit on Rash’s sister – they pushed and shoved each other until it looked like a scene from Rocky. Pretty cringey.

I’ve read elsewhere that New Blood is a fresh type of crime drama, but beneath all the tech wizardry and new faces, it actually felt like a throwback to when buddy cop shows were the norm. If anything, New Blood is an updating of an old and familiar trope.

Paul Hirons


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