The fact that the opening of wunderkind Mike Oldfield’s 1973 debut Tubular Bells starts this finale merely points up that this tune is remembered by many for featuring in director William Friedkin’s outstanding and genre-busting horror film The Exorcist (released the same year). It also launched the career of a certain Richard Branson, as it was the first album released by Virgin Records. So it doesn’t really sit well in the context of this misguided prequel to the groundbreaking Prime Suspect series. It comes as Cliff Bentley (Alun Armstrong) runs from the conflagration at the bank that claims the life of DI Bradfield (Sam Reid). It is a good explosion, but with pretty cheap-looking CGI flames.
We’ve begun to watch this series through a post-ironic filter. So stilted is the acting, dialogue and so leaden the plot and direction that we are now playing a TV version of ‘are we there yet?’ by spotting scenes that look as if they’ve been lifted from classic 1970s movies – tonight’s episode included glimpses of The Graduate (the modernist church for Pam’s nuptials was a bit reminiscent of Elaine’s far more memorable wedding), sub-Mean Streets-style bantering between the cops, and a pinch from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’s slow-mo to freeze-frame where our plods bust into the vault before the explosion at the bank. Do you think you used enough oxy-acetylene there, Butch?
Free’s high-octane Wishing Well from the 1972 album Heartbreaker kicks off this episode – and DS Spencer Gibbs (Blake Harrison) would do well to heed singer Paul Rodgers’ warning: “Throw down your gun, you might shoot yourself, or is that what you’re trying to do?”
NB: Spoilers inside
At last the tempo goes up a few beats in the third episode of this turgid ‘throwback Thursday’ series. There has to be a good twist soon, there just has to be. We Got To Get Out Of This Place sings Eric Burdon (a golden oldie from 1965 even then), although maybe The Animals’ House of the Rising Sun would have been a more apt choice for the hapless Bentley clan: ‘Oh mother, tell your children not to do what I have done.’ Indeed.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains my sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk. Oh no, my mistake – I’ve just dropped off in front of Prime Suspect 1973 again. 1973 – a year so dull that anodyne James Blunt wrote a song about it.
Last week saw the start of much-anticipated prequel to Prime Suspect, Prime Suspect 1973. Our own reviewer, Deborah, felt that it was ok but ‘wearyingly predictable’. Now friend of the site and brilliant crime author Sarah Hilary has presented her own opinion on that first episode – and it’s not entirely complimentary.
It is fitting that Prime Suspect 1973 began just days after Cressida Dick was appointed first female Metropolitan Police commissioner. She joined the Met 10 years after the period in which this series is set – and it remains to be seen if she can cleanse the Augean stables of the lingering messes of the past including accumulating allegations of high-level Met corruption relating to historical child abuse. She’s certainly got her work cut out. So here we are in 1973, when such things as institutional racism and corruption were unremarked upon and were almost acceptable. Ah, 1973 – the year so beloved of TV dramatists because it is oft cited as the most significant year of the 20th century. Over 40 years on, it is still remembered for power cuts, the three-day week, the oil crisis, the miners’ strike and a break-in at the US Democrats’ Committee HQ at the Watergate Building, whose suffix has been appended to almost every scandal since.
NB: Spoilers inside