The Killing Times Top 20 Crime Dramas Of The Year 2019: Part three, 10-6

It’s time for the Top 10!

Here we go… we’ve reached the Top 10 of our annual countdown.

Yesterday, we saw that the likes of True Detective, City On A Hill and Elizabeth Is Missing made it into the top 15. Now we’re edging closer to the top slots.

As ever, if you agree or disagree, drop us a message and state your case!

READ MORE: THE KILLING TIMES TOP 20 CRIME DRAMAS OF THE YEAR, PART ONE, 20-16

READ MORE: THE KILLING TIMES TOP 20 CRIME DRAMAS OF THE YEAR, PART TWO, 15-11

10 Dublin Murders
BBC ONE
Whenever Sarah Phelps is attached to a project, you know it’s worth a watch. And Dublin Murders – a clever soldering of two of Tana French’s celebrated Dublin Murder Squad novels – turned out to be one of the best procedurals of the year.

It told the tale of two broken detectives, each with their own incredible backstories that came back to haunt them when the body of a teenage girl was found in the woods of Knocknaree (a fictional glade near Dublin). For detectives Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene) choosing to investigate this murder meant facing the abyss – Rob was one of the children involved in a cold missing persons case decades before, so taking this on was a way to finally find out what happened to his friends. For Cassie, more demons from her past were preparing to show themselves after the body of her doppelganger was found further down the coast.

Both Rob and Cassie had struggled, wrestled and ran away from their identities all these years and tried to keep secrets. Now it was time to not only acknowledge who they really were but also to face the consequences of keeping their real identities under wraps.

Once this twisty-turny journey was over, we realised that we would really miss these characters, despite their flaws. Killian Scott and especially Sarah Greene were superb in lead roles that were complex, flawed and multi-faceted. Backed up by a strong supporting cast, these characters really stuck with us and affected us. That was all down to Phelps, who not only fused two novels together both dealing with the same themes of identity but also sketched these characters with depth and empathy.

READ MORE: FOR OUR REVIEW OF DUBLIN MURDERS

9 Spiral (Series 7)
BBC Four
If Spiral seems to be coasting at the moment, no longer as twisty-turning or as brutally shocking as it was in the first few seasons, it still has two things going for it. Firstly, we’re deeply, emotionally invested in the characters, from workaholic cop Laure and her morally flexible sidekick Gilou, to dedicated judge Roban and even ethically bankrupt lawyer Josephine. Is it the performances, the French accents or the weatherbeaten looks of this hard-working and unselfish ensemble? Secondly, the plots, in which every decision has consequences. Or maybe the charm is Paris itself, eternally appealing despite the griminess of its underbelly; or the fascinating complexities of the French legal system, which seems to be if anything more abstruse and impenetrable than our own. If season seven lacked shock value – other than the opening murder of a long-standing character – it left us anticipating the prospect of a rejuvenated Laure, while Gilou takes the rap for all sorts of shady dealings. So perhaps the best thing to be said about Spiral is that even when it’s not at its finest, we always greet its return with the welcome we reserve for a warming glass of Bénédictine.
Chris Jenkins

READ MORE: FOR ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEW OF SPIRAL

8 Line Of Duty (Series 5)
BBC One
Despite carping in some quarters that series five of Jed Mercurio’s nail-biter about a dystopian City With No Name gripped by a hydra-headed crime syndicate with its roots in the forces of justice had lost its touch, we beg to differ.

It may be dragging the mystery of the identity of crime boss ‘H’ to almost indecent lengths but most of the 12.5 million viewers (something of a rarity for broadcast TV drama series these days) are still praying that it’s not the silver fox housewives’ favourite Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) or one of his ‘wee gobshites’.

We’ve seen strong suspects go down like skittles across the five series since the Tony Soprano figure of mobster Tommy Hunter (Brian McCardie) was killed off at the behest of his protege ‘Dot’ Cottan (Craig Parkinson). And we only have Dot’s dying confession that the senior police officer orchestrating the mayhem has a name starting with H. Maybe it’s a round table of top cops and lawyers.

But what has been consistently so great about each series are its ‘guest’  protagonists who meet such violent fates when they seize defeat from the jaws of victory: the tragic but doggedly determined DI Lindsay Denton (a career milestone performance by Keeley Hawes); the damaged man-child Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays); the prickly DCI Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton) and most recently the heart-rendingly tortured performance from Stephen Graham as the doomed undercover hero John Corbett.

Maybe some answers will be forthcoming in series six as Hunter’s young burner phone courier Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) is now a student police officer, secretly working for the OCG syndicate.

AC-12’s Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) have their work cut out.

READ MORE: FOR ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEW OF LINE OF DUTY

7 When They See Us
Netflix
On 19th April, 1989 a young woman – a white, middle-class woman (race is important in this story) named Trisha Meili – went for a jog in Central Park, New York. She was brutally attacked, sexually assaulted and left for dead. In a feral, racially-charged atmosphere, random black youths were rounded up and coerced into giving false statements.

The tragic, now infamous story of the Central Park Five was born.

Throughout this emotional, anger-inducing series we journeyed with the five boys through a quarter of a century, from when they were first questioned about the incident in the spring of 1989, through to their eventual exoneration in 2002 and ultimately the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.

You thought you knew what was going to happen, but nothing really prepared us for this journey. We saw five young boys broken by circumstance and forces beyond their control, and we followed them through the unforgiving US penal system, broken further into a thousand pieces as they tried to forge something, anything, from the smouldering coals of their injustice.

Up until this point, retellings of this story have mainly focused on the legal side of things, not the human experience or, indeed, cost. But Ava DuVernay wanted to unapologetically tell the story of Kevin Richardson, Anton McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana, what happened to them and how they were affected as human beings.

It was a remarkable, extraordinary piece of work, with an ensemble cast that did complete justice to those young boys who lost everything.

READ MORE: FOR OUR REVIEW OF WHEN THEY SEE US

6 Craith (Series 2)
S4C
The rise of Welsh Noir has been one of the more interesting trends of crime drama in the past half-decade.

Taking the baton from Hinterland/Y Gwyll, Craith returned with its second series and once again mixed dark, foreboding stories, achingly gorgeous scenery from the Snowdonia/Gwynedd area of north Wales, and characters we know and characters we didn’t all drawing us in.

One of those returning characters – DI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) – was tasked with investigating the murder of a maligned ex-schoolteacher in his home. What Cadi and her partner Owen Vaughan were soon faced with was a teenage gang running about town, led by the calculating and manipulative Mia – members of who had all come from broken homes in one form or another.

The story moved slowly, enthrallingly, as all things edged towards a thrilling confrontation between Cadi and Mia.

The cast was on great form (Annes Elwy, in particular, was mesmerising as Mia, chewing up the screen every time she appeared on it), the cinematography was utterly breathtaking and the story was absorbing and emotionally involving. And, more importantly, it gave its characters room to breath… and room to just be.

With the overall quality of Scandi Noir taking a dip, Craith stepped into that breach and gave us a dark story that had everything the likes of The Killing and The Bridge used to provide.

READ MORE: FOR ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEW OF CRAITH

LISTEN: OUR CRAITH PODCAST WITH SION ALUN DAVIES AND SIAN REESE-WILLIAMS

 

 

 

 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. eurocelt says:

    Despite being Welsh, I’ve not seen Craith yet. Going by your recommendation, I’ll certainly check it out. Must give a shout out to Engrenages,(Spiral) as one of the highlights of 2019. Seven series in and it remains compulsory viewing. The cast is exceptional – and I just love #AudreyFleurot

    Like

    1. Craith is really good. I’m Welsh too. In my opinion the second series is better than the first, but both are worth watching.

      Like

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