The countdown continues…
Yesterday, we began our countdown of our Top 20 crime dramas of the year.
We began with some fairly big-hitters and some excellent series – Un Bore Mercher, Devs and The Undoing among them. So what does today hold?
As ever, please drop your comments below if you disagree or feel as though we’ve missed out some of your favourites.
On with the show…
15 Deadwater Fell
Channel 4 (UK)
At the start of the year, we headed up to Scotland and the picture-perfect village of Deadwater Fell for Daisy ‘Grantchester‘ Coulam’s four-part thriller. Starring David Tennant – who has been exploring his darker side recently, more on him later – and Anna Madeley as husband and wife Tom and Kate respectively, it was a tale of what seemed like a perfect marriage from the outside in a perfect community, who were shaken to their core when Kate and her two children were killed in a house fire. From then it was a case of finding out if Tom – the only one to escape the fire alive – was the killer or not. As the series unravelled, it became a remarkable, disturbing study of domestic, psychological abuse and manipulation. Deadwater Fell could have gone down the conventional whodunit route, but instead had the courage to talk about important, serious and frightening subjects and it was all the better for it.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEWS OF DEADWATER FELL
14 Perry Mason
Sky Atlantic (UK), HBO (US)
It’s safe to say there was some critical pearl-clutching going on when HBO launched its “pre-boot” of the iconic Perry Mason this year. This origin story was a million miles away from the Raymond Burr incarnation of the titular lawyer, with Matthew Rhys portraying the character as a drunken grifter blackmailing his way through 1930s Los Angeles. Of course, Mason comes good in the end – much like the show. Whilst the show overall was a consummately professional confection that dazzled with the extensive production budget put into it, the identity crisis around the character’s morality led to a show of two halves that only really began to spark into life once Mason entered the courtroom. But when he did, wow – did this show sing.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEWS OF PERRY MASON
13 Bosch (Series 5)
Amazon Prime’s perennial fan favourite Bosch returned this year for its penultimate run, this time placing the taciturn detective within the crosshairs of domestic terrorists. You don’t get to become the streaming giant’s longest-running series by changing a winning formula, and so Bosch simply did more of the same this season, but better. We got to spend more time with a set of characters that feel truly inhabited by the actors playing them, we got more plot that felt properly paced and made sense from scene to scene, and we got more dazzling script work from some of the best crime fiction writers America has to offer. In short, we got more Bosch – and that is never a bad thing.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF BOSCH SERIES SIX
ITV’s relentless drive to adapt seemingly every crime that has ever been committed in the UK continued apace this autumn. It’s easy to be cynical about true-crime adaptations, but Honour was simply superb and hugely affecting. It told the story of Kurdish-Iraqi-British women Banaz Mahmod, who was murdered in 2006 during what seemed like an ‘honour’ killing. Tasked with finding her killer was DCI Carol Goode (Keeley Hawes), who soon found that the police force had let Banaz down on numerous occasions and that a section of the Kurdish-Iraqi community that had its own rules and attitudes to women, and their assimilation into western culture, were complicit in her murder. It was uncomfortable, heartbreaking viewing, with outstanding performances from Hawes, Rhianne Barreto as Banaz’s sister Bekhal, and Alexa Davies as young data analyst Keilly Jones.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEWS OF HONOUR
LISTEN TO MORE: OUR PODCAST WITH HONOUR STAR ALEXA DAVIES
11 The Third Day: Autumn
Sky Arts (UK), HBO (US)
What’s this? On one of the wettest October weekends in recent memory, Sky Arts rolled out a 12-hour live drama experience the likes of which we had never seen before. Sandwiched in between the Summer and Winter chapters of this folk horror/crime mash-up, The Third Day: Autumn gave us something quite extraordinary. Staged by Punch Drunk and starring The Third Day cast (mostly Jude Law) it re-enacted The Passion – Law’s character Sam had to dig his own grave (which we watched him do in the rain for an hour), carry a cross down to the sea o’er hill and dale, and then be resurrected at a stroboscopic rave. None of it made much sense, but in a year severely lacking any emotion other than anxiety, The Third Day: Autumn provided intrigue, intensity, curious Zen-like sequences and beautiful but disturbing imagery. It wasn’t just a remarkable achievement, it was a remarkable experience. And yes, we did watch it all.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF THE THIRD DAY: AUTUMN