HBO’s Big Little Lies – shown in the UK on Sky Atlantic – won big at the Emmys on Sunday night. It won Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie (Nicole Kidman), Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie (Alexander Skarsgard), Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special (Jean-Marc Vallée), and Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or TV Movie (Laura Dern). That’s quite an impressive haul, and there’s no doubt the buzz around it and subsequent reviews of the show were very good. However, it was one of those shows that slipped through our net a bit – it premiered back at the start of the year, one of the busiest times in crime drama land. With that in mind, we thought now would be a good time to doff our cap and pay tribute to one of the starriest and unlikeliest crime drama hits of the year.
I think it’s fair to say that The Handmaid’s Tale is probably the best drama of the year in any genre, and it’s brilliant to see Margaret Atwood get the credit she deserves from a new generation who have been introduced to her key themes of imprisonment, civilisation versus nature and women’s place in the world. Because of The Handmaid’s Tale stunning, rightful success, the next big Atwood adaptation – a murder mystery, no less – will be eagerly awaited. Alias Grace will arrive on Netflix on 3rd November, and the streaming service has released a trailer.
One of my favourite crime authors is James Ellroy, and the late Curtis Hanson put together an Oscar-winning adaptation of his epic novel LA Confidential, starring Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger. It was brilliant. Ellroy’s work had been, up to that point, often thought to be pretty much un-adaptable, but the movie version became one the best crime dramas ever made for the big screen. Now we hear that there’s a television series based on the novel in the works.
A warning: this is going to be the longest review I’ve ever written. Twin Peaks, as regular readers of this site will know, is one of my favourite shows of all time and affects me like no other – then and now. The characters, the setting, the lore, the layers of consciousness explored… it has all added up to something wonderful and beguiling, and something that has stayed with me and will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s also going to be a long review because of the sheer amount of things that transpired in this two-part finale, some easy to understand, some not so. I could talk about it for a long time, but I’ll try to be as concise as possible, which probably won’t happen. It’s best to strap in and get the coffee on.
True Detective won The Killing Times’ first ever Crime Drama Of The Year in 2013, so it’s natural that we’ve been keeping a close eye on it ever since. Series two was a disappointment, too often lapsing into parody, and the lukewarm critical response seemed to put the skids on a third series happening. There has been a drip-drip release of information so far – David Milch helping Nicholas Pizzolatto, Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali taking the lead role – which is all well and good, but HBO, the show’s US home network, has not confirmed even the existence of a third series. Until now.
Despite it being frustrating and hard going at times, I’m greatly enjoying the third series of Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s cross-dimensional crime drama, which finishes with a two-part finale on Monday 4th September. Throughout the 16 parts so far, we’ve caught up with old favourites, found out how they’ve been created, met new characters and have been plunged into new mysteries. One of the absolute delights, though, has been spending more time with FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (Lynch) and FBI Special Agent, Albert Rosenfeld (the late, great Miguel Ferrer). They’ve crucial roles as the the splintered personality of Agent Dale Cooper has slowly resolved itself, and the more I’ve thought about it the more a spin-off series featuring these two would make sense. So David Lynch, if you’re reading…
This third series has been a sometimes thrilling, sometimes viscerally terrifying and sometimes infuriating journey. Throughout 15 episodes we’ve waited and waited until Agent Dale Cooper – our beloved FBI man – snapped out of his fugue and take back the identity that had been locked away for so long. No question about it: we’ve all needed saintly patience to get to that point. Ultimately, this is what this third series has been about – the search for identity. It’s been so different in tone and structure to the first two series that I know many friends have been turned off by it, but I’ve seen this as another detective story but not in any traditional, rational or step-by-step procedural sense. No, this series of Twin Peaks has, among other things, been about shattered identities and characters searching for who they used to be. And, after so many false dawns, Dale Cooper – the Dale Cooper we knew and loved – looked for all the world to have found himself again.