TV Crime Log: Shetland, Law, Americans

UnknownThe murder rate in the Scottish Highlands is about to go way up. After its one-off pilot did so well last year, there was never any doubt that Shetland would return to BBC1 for a full series.

The series  – three tales told in two-parts – is, of course, based on the books by Ann Cleeves. Douglas Henshall stars as DI Jimmy Perez. That’s him above looking, well – enormous.

Here’s the blurb:

Old wounds are painfully reopened as DI Jimmy Perez and his team look into a past crime to solve the present-day murder of a young teenage girl. The residents of Ravenswick are shocked when 17-year-old Catherine Ross is found murdered on a secluded beach.

With his cottage overlooking the crime scene, local recluse Magnus Bain is first to be questioned by Perez who is intrigued to discover Magnus had forged an unlikely friendship with the victim. Perez and his team – DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh and Trainee DC Sandy Wilson – begin piecing together the hours leading up to Catherine’s death.

Perez questions Sally Henry, Catherine’s timid best friend whose mother – local schoolteacher Margaret Henry – makes no secret of her dislike for Catherine. He follows up with Hugo Scott, Catherine’s evidently obsessed teacher, and Alan Isbister, a local playboy philanderer, who admits to seeing Catherine at his party on Midsummer Night.

When Fiscal Procurator Rhona Kelly draws Perez’s attention to the unsolved case of Catriona Bruce, a seven-year-old girl who disappeared from the same village 19 years ago, Perez realises that the two girls even shared an address.

Although Magnus’s name crops up regularly throughout the investigation, Perez refuses to commit entirely to a link between the death of Catherine and Catriona’s disappearance – fearing a witch hunt around Magnus.

However, when the perfectly preserved body of a young girl is discovered in the peat bogs and a connection to Magnus arises, Perez is reluctantly forced to rethink his investigation.

With Vera going great guns for ITV, Cleeves is kind of sanguine about the way books are changed for television, saying that writers have to learn to let go of their work as soon as readers pick them up. You can see her interesting thoughts about the series here.

The books adapted for the series are Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning, leaving only one of her five Shetland books unadapted. Presumably, if it goes to another series, the telly people will have to purchase a whiteboard and some magic markers, and get storylining.

Shetland is on tomorrow — Tuesday night — at 9pm, on BBC1.

UnknownSo Law & Order: UK is back on ITV, Wednesday at 9pm, for its umpteenth series. Bradley Walsh’s DS Ronnie Brooks seems to have rather carelessly lost another sidekick along the way. You know the deal with Law And Order. Some coppers investigate a crime and then you pop off to make a cup of tea and by the time you’re back, everyone’s arguing in court.

We’re talked about Law and Order before. It’s an absolutely massive TV universe in the US, with over 1,000 episodes made in the US of its various series iterations, and numerous crossovers with other shows.

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by the blurb:

DS Ronnie Brooks and his new partner Joe are leading an investigation into the death of jeweller Harry Bernstein who is found dead with no hands or teeth.  His wife Lindsay, her lover David, and a former business associate, Mickey Belker, are all possible suspects.

But the case takes a surprising turn when Bernstein’s sister turns up with his severed hands. They were delivered to her house in a box to lend weight to a very simple message: ‘not guilty’.

imagesAnd finally, the second series of The Americans airs on Saturday. I stuck with the first series, just about. Sometimes stodgy, sometimes gripping, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are the KGB agents posing as a normal suburban couple in the 1980s. The wig work is good, but the tone was all over the place. You always felt like the creative-team were never quite sure about whether they wanted to have fun or the idea or not.

Rhys and Russell would run about in the dead of night, getting into all sorts of trouble, and you’d sit there thinking, who’s looking after the kids? 

I’ll probably stick with it. Hell, I’m no quitter. Amazingly, it’s managed to hold onto its Saturday night slot on ITV, at 9.20pm.

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