Series Review: Vigil (2021)

I’ve talked about my fair share of British tv shows over the years. And now it’s time to talk about yet another one, let’s gooooo!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Vigil”.

Following a death on board the submarine HMS Vigil, DSI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) gets sent aboard to investigate it. But what starts out as a somewhat death investigation soon turns into a much larger conspiracy involving the Royal Navy and potentially various other, high level sectors. So it’s part mystery, part conspiracy thriller, and then also part melodrama. So let’s break things down a little, starting with the mystery and conspiracy angle. At the off-set it feels fairly grounded, just a standard Beeb cop drama of a death being investigated, and as it goes on it becomes more complex, more improbable, and even a bit silly… and I liked that. It’s a conspiracy thriller right out of Robert Ludlum or or Tom Clancy’s typewriter, and there’s something about those kinds of stories I find quite compelling. It keeps it fun and engaging. Now let’s talk about the third part I alluded to earlier… the melodrama. Interspersed throughout is a backstory involving Amy and her relationship to fellow policewoman Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie). And while a bit of personal drama can add some nice weight to a show like this, it didn’t feel super well implemented in this. There are a few moments involving the two that I don’t mind, but a lot of these scenes of romantic melodrama just don’t feel as naturally baked into the show as they could be. So yeah, the story here is a little bit mixed. Mostly good, but has some things that let it down.

The characters in this are all decently interesting, sporting interesting personalities and mostly having interesting dynamics between each other. But what really makes them stand out is the cast. Every actor in this cast is at the top of their game, bringing the characters to life beautifully. Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans (my personal standout), Paterson Joseph, Stephen Dillane, Daniel Portman, Martin Compston, Adam James, Anjili Mohindra, and more, are all fantastic in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Berenice Scott and Glenn Gregory, and I think it was pretty good. It’s a mostly ambient affair, taking a low-key and almost sneaky approach  to build creeping tension or have you more invested in the personal drama. And I think it works fine, it’s a decent score that works well for the show.

“Vigil” was created for the BBC by Tom Edge, with writing by him, Chandni Lakhani, and Ed Macdonald, and with directing duties split between Isabelle Sieb and James Strong. And I think this show has some strong direction. While the submarine seems waaaay bigger than an actual sub, they still find good ways of making it feel claustrophobic, which adds a little to the suspense in the scenes set down there. But even the ones set on the surface, following the investigations up there are really well helmed with good shots and editing. It’s just a well crafted show.

This show has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While its melodramatic bits drag it down at times, “Vigil” is still a highly enjoyable, if ludicrous, conspiratorial police thriller. It has a fun plot, good characters, fantastic performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Vigil” is a 7.98/10. So while it’s far from perfect, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

My review of “Vigil” is now completed.

We all live in a Vigil submarine…

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 6 (2021)

Anyone who’s followed this blog for an extended amount of time knows what a big fan of this show I am. So obviously I was quite excited that it had returned this year, despite delays due to covid. And now I’ve finally watched through this latest season, I’m ready to share my mad ramblings about it.

Fellas, ma’ams, and bent coppers… “Line of Duty” season 6.

Following in the murder of a journalist,  AC-12 get tasked with looking into DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and her potential mishandling surrounding the situation. Meanwhile we see Steve (Martin Compston), Kate (Vicky McClure), and Ted (Adrian Dunbar) are dealing with the consequences of the previous season. So season 6 is not only acting as a new case for our favorite anti-corruption officers, but it’s also attempting to address what’s come before as well as try to tie the bow on a lot of the threads set up throughout the show. It basically acts as a full on final act for the entire show. And I honestly found the narrative in this season to be really solid… with a few caveats. To be quite honest, I wasn’t a giant fan of the first two episode. They weren’t bad per se, as far as overall quality goes, they’re good. But something about them didn’t quite hook me as much as I expected. Previous seasons could have me clutching my legs almost immediately, or by the end of episode 1 at the latest. Here it took until episode 3 for my body to even feel the tingle of suspense. But when that point hits it just gets better and better, and it finally feels like we’re sucking diesel. And without getting into spoilers, let’s talk about the controversial final episode for two seconds… I don’t mind it. I feel like the revelations and events within it, while not exactly what I expected or had in mind, fits quite well for the show and ultimately serves as a very thought-provoking and logical end to this saga.

The characters, both new and old, this season remain as unique, flawed, complex, and interesting as always. Steve, Kate, and Ted’s bond has morphed a little bit since the end of last season in ways that are interesting, and it makes for some excellent bits of interaction and character development throughout. And I think I don’t need to say much about Compston, McClure, and Dunbar who are all as terrific as always. Then there’s series newcomer Kelly Macdonald as Jo Davidson, the DCI under investigation from AC-12 this season. She’s a decently interesting character whose development I enjoyed following throughout this season, with Macdonald being really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Perry Fitzpatrick, Nigel Boyle, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Tommy Jessop, Gregory Piper, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with previous seasons, the score was composed by Carly Paradis, and as with those aforementioned seasons, she did an excellent job. Tense, emotional, and exciting, her score is just great.

Season 6 of “Line of Duty” was completely written by series creator Jed Mercurio, with direction of the seven episodes split between Daniel Nettheim, Jennie Darnell, and Gareth Bryn. And I don’t know what to say here that I haven’t rambled about before in my other reviews, the craft here is superb, finding a nice balance between looking really sleek and still retaining a lot of grit throughout. And while it takes a bit to get genuinely suspenseful for me, when it actually does, it is really fucking tense. Yeah, I got nothing new to add here.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.7/10 and is ranked #106 on their “Top 250 TV shows” list.

While the first two episodes are a little less engaging than I would’ve liked, there’s no denying that the sixth (and potentially final) season of “Line of Duty” ends up being another tense, exciting, and highly watchable run of AC-12’s antics. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 6 of “Line of Duty” is an 8.94/10. So while that slow start does hurt it a little, I’d still definitely say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 6 is now completed.

If this is indeed the last we’ll see of this show, then I must say that it’s been great following it and I’m gonna miss having it around.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 5 (2019)

During the first quarter of this year, I started getting into this show thanks to recommendations from friends (some of you might remember all the reviews I posted). And now the fifth season has come to a close, after finally premiering a few weeks ago. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 5!

After a secret police transport carrying very valuable amounts of contraband is hijacked, it is suspected that the capers had help from the inside. So it’s up to Arnott (Martin Compston), Fleming (Vicky McClure), and the rest of AC-12 to investigate this case, leading them down one of their most complicated and dangerous cases yet. So now we have our “Line of Duty” continuation. As per usual, it gives us a new situation to follow while also building on the overall mythos of the show. And like with previous seasons, this makes for some truly anxiety-inducing television that electrifies from start to finish. I’d even argue that this is the most suspenseful and unpredictable of the seasons, especially since it really starts toying with our beloved leads in ways that we haven’t really seen before. And while the show has put me on the edge of my seat before, it’s never made me feel this glued to the proceedings. So I’d argue the story/events of this season is some of the best yet.

The characters here are nuanced, flawed, unique, and just overall incredibly interesting. Martin Compston and Vicky McClure returns as Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming, our two main leads for the show, and they’re just as interesting as ever, both in investigating the case and also in some of their personal stuff. And both actors are once again great. Adrian Dunbar returns as Ted Hastings, head of AC-12, who deals with a lot more personal turmoil than usual, which really gives him a lot of new and intriguing development that we only caught glimpses of before, making him a real standout this season. And Dunbar is great in the role. New to the show this season is Stephen Graham, who plays John, the apparent leader of the gang that stole the contraband. He’s tough, ruthless, but there’s also a humanity behind his eyes that makes him a bit more compelling than your common thug. And the stuff they do with him this season is great. And Graham is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Taj Atwal, Tomi May, Rochenda Sandall, Anna Maxwell Martin, Polly Walker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with previous season, the music here was composed by Carly Paradis, who absolutely outdid herself. She’s come a long way from the slightly overbearing tunes of the first season, to the stuff we got here. There are layers, to her music, and it’s often subtly helping build the emotion of the scenes, making for a really nuanced and kinda beautiful score. It’s the best music we’ve gotten out of the show.

As with the previous seasons, all episodes this season were written by series creator Jed Mercurio, and directing by John Strickland (episodes 1 – 4) and Susan Tully (episode 5 & 6). And the craft on display is as tight as one expects from “Line of Duty” at this point. This show is no stranger to suspense, but the way it managed to make me clench every part of my body this season is quite unparalleled. Even in some of the more “quiet” conversation or interrogation scenes it is some of the most electrifying direction I’ve seen in a tv show.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #137 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

I’m gonna be honest, season 5 of “Line of Duty” is my favorite season of the show so far, it’s fucking perfect. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 5 is a 10/10. So it of course gets a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 5 is now completed.

God damn, I adore this show.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 4 (2017)

That’s right, another “Line of Duty” review. But don’t worry, it’s the last one… until season 5 makes its way over here.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 4!

AC-12 is back, this time investigating the recent, slightly suspicious actions of a highly decorated detective chief inspector (Thandie Newton). Twists, turns, and “holy shit” abound. Yeah, it’s another season of “Line of Duty”, the edge-of-your-seat police procedural that I still have no way of predicting where it would go each season. The threads brought back from previous seasons are tied wonderfully into some stuff here, and the new plot is great too. Really, there’s not much else that I can say without repeating what I said the last three times I reviewed this show. It’s more “Line of Duty”… and it’s great. Not season 3 great, but still great.

The characters here are as flawed, unique, layered, and interesting as always. To avoid repeating myself, I will not go over the three mains again, as I can’t say anything new about them here without going into potential spoilers. But the three of them (Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar) are still great characters complemented by great performances. So let’s get into the new part of the core cast (for the season), that being Thandie Newton as DCI Roseanne “Roz” Huntley, a tough-as-nails policewoman who’s worked hard to get where she is. Not only is it interesting seeing her dealing with AC-12 and their inquiries, but she also has her own dealings (for lack of a better word) that she tries to handle throughout the six episodes, and that stuff is pretty engaging as well. So yeah, Huntley is an interesting character, and Newton is great in the role. And in the supporting roles we find people like Lee Ingleby, Paul Higgins, Maya Sondhi, Jason Watkins, Scott Reid, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As per the first three seasons, the music here was done by Carly Paradis, and once again it is great. Most of the time it’s a subtle piano piece that sneaks the main theme in a bit, but it does also know when to get a bit more tense, exciting, and loud. It’s probably my favorite iteration of the score so far. It doesn’t do anything overly new or groundbreaking, but it’s probably the most polished and balanced version we’ve gotten so far, and that’s an A+ in my book.

As per usual, all the episodes were written by series creator/showrunner Jed Mercurio, who even took on directing duties for the first two episodes, with John Strickland taking on the remaining four. And like with the score, this is probably the most polished version of the show so far. That’s not to say that they shy away from some of the gritty stuff… ’cause they don’t. It’s just that you can tell that they’ve come a long way since the first season in terms of both budget and storytelling confidence. Remember how I mentioned the “edge-of-your-seat” thing from before? Yeah, that applies to the direction too. In terms of suspense in television, few do it as well as “Line of Duty”.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #158 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

So yeah, as expected, season 4 of “Line of Duty” is fucking great. Great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 4 is a 9,92/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 4 is now completed.

This show is too addictive for my own good.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 3 (2016)

Yes, I know, you’ve been getting a lot of “Line of Duty” content from me in relatively quick succession, but I can’t help if the show is very bingeable. Or, well, technically it is, but also not… Shut up. Let’s just get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 3!

When a suspect is fatally shot during a police raid, Arnott (Martin Compston), Fleming (Vicky McClure), and the rest of AC-12 have to look into the possibility of corruption and misconduct within the strike team involved in the shooting. But as they work this case, they soon discover that it isn’t as simple as it might seem at first. And this is how “Line of Duty” weaves its most complex, layered, intense, and unpredictable plot yet… and I loved ever second of it. Not discrediting the first two seasons, they were great… but season 3’s web is so broad and layered with intrigued that it almost puts them to shame. In scope, storytelling, and suspense, it is probably the peak of any police show that I have ever watched, and honestly better than a lot of movies too. It takes the idea of “Line of Duty”, and not only creates a new, interesting plot in it, but weaves in elements from previous seasons too to create this big, elaborate plot… and yet it never feels messy. And at no point could I predict what was going to happen, which is quite nice to see in a police show. So yeah, the plot here is pretty fantastic.

The characters (new and returning) are all flawed, layered, engaging, and overall just really interesting. Martin Compston of course returns as DS Steve Arnott, still being the tenacious  investigator that we know and love. Seeing him do his job would’ve been interesting enough, but then they also give him some interesting development here too to keep it feeling fresh, which is a welcome addition. And Compston is great in the role. Vicky McClure returns as DC Kate Fleming, who as per usual, has to go undercover, this time with the strike team that’s under investigation. And while she doesn’t have the biggest arc this season, she still gets a fair amount of good stuff to chew on here. And McClure is great in the role. Adrian Dunbar returns as everyone’s favorite superintendent, Ted Hastings. Seeing him deal with the complexities of the case while also dealing with some personal things is really interesting. And Dunbar is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Daniel Mays, Craig Parkinson, Polly Walker, Arsher Ali, Keeley Hawes, Jonas Armstrong, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first two seasons, the music here was composed by Carly Paradis, who once again delivers a tense, emotional, dramatic, and just plain great score. It’s probably the best work she’s done for the show up up to this point. The compositions are layered, yet simple, which works incredibly well in creating the sound of the show.

Series creator Jed Mercurio returned to write all the episodes, and directing duties were split between Michael Keillor and John Strickland. And once again, this crew has really upped their game. The directing is more steady, more confident, and overall more intense, creating a truly electrifying viewing experience. Sure, the writing in itself is already amazing, but the addition of the season’s excellent direction creates a unique and awesome style that I really liked. It also makes the suspenseful bits even more uncomfortable.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #162 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Once again, “Line of Duty” has one-upped itself. The plot is fantastic, the characters are great, the performances are great, the music is really good, and the writing/directing is fantastic. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 3 is a 9,95/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 3 is now completed.

For fuck’s sake, show, stop* getting better and better.

*Don’t actually stop.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 2 (2014)

Season 1 got reviewed a few weeks back. Time to finally talk about season 2.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 2!

When a super secret police convoy get attacked by some masked assailants, Arnott (Martin Compston), Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), and the rest of AC-12 have to look into the possibility of someone within the police leaking the convoy’s route. So now we have our plot set up. And while there was nothing wrong with the first season’s plot, it is nowhere as layered, unpredictable, and electrifying as what they got going on here in the sophomore outing. In the first season they were trying to find the show’s voice, but here in season 2 they found it, and they had a lot of confidence in the storytelling. The way it engages through clever drama and really tight suspense makes for one of the best seasons of television I’ve seen in quite some time.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and really interesting. Martin Compston returns as Steve Arnott, the young-ish man working with AC-12 to stop corruption. He is given a good amount of development here, making him even more interesting than he was in the first season, while still keeping the determined nature that made him so engaging to begin with. And Compston is great in the role. Vicky McClure returns as Kate Fleming, AC-12’s resident undercover officer. She gets development here through something in the case that I won’t spoil, but it’s an interesting touch. And McClure is great in the role. Adrian Dunbar returns as Ted Hastings, the likable boss of AC-12. He has some personal problems that he deals with while also trying to be involved in the case, which is quite interesting to see. And Dunbar is really good in the role. We also get Keeley Hawes as Lindsay Denton, a woman/member of the police who is one of the prime suspects of the case, and they do some really interesting stuff with her character throughout the season. And Hawes is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Craig Parkinson, Mark Bonnar, Tony Pitts, Sacha Dhawan, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first season, the score for this was composed by Carly Paradis, and I think that it’s an improvement on the first season’s music. It still has a heavy focus in piano and some strings, but what it improves on is subtlety. Sure, the score is noticeable, but compared to the first season, it never gets overbearing at any point, and just ends up being this emotional powerhouse that makes the show even better than it already was.

The show was created by Jed Mercurio, who also wrote all the episodes here, with direction split between Douglas Mackinnon and Daniel Nettheim. And the craft here is even tighter than in the first season, with plenty more “holy shit” moments throughout, which keeps the show energetic and tense, even in the most subtle and quiet of scenes. A lot of cop shows fail in creating genuine suspense, but season 2 of “Line of Duty” never wavers in that regard.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #165 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 2 of “Line of Duty” takes what was good about the first season and improves on it in every aspect. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 2 is a 9,91/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 2 is now completed.

I can see now why you Brits keep banging on about this show.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 1 (2012)

Sorry that it’s been so long since my last blog post, which was… almost two weeks ago, yikes. I have no good reason for this lack of writing, my laziness has just been awful to me. But now I’m (hopefully) back for semi-regular posting.

Ladies and gents… “Line of Duty” season 1.

After an anti-terrorist operation he’s leading goes awry, Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) gets transferred to a different department, one that focuses on stopping corruption within the police. So we follow him as he deals with some of the aftermath of the fuck-up, while also trying to stop a certain, beloved, potentially corrupt officer within the police. So now we have our plot. And it’s pretty great. It manages to give us plenty of details to create a vivid picture while still hiding an ace up the sleeve in each episode, keeping it suspenseful, unpredictable, and constantly interesting.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and interesting. First up we have Martin Compston as DS Steve Arnott, former anti-terror squad leader, currently member of the anti-corruption department. He’s a man who’s always on the prowl to get the job done… as long as it is by the book, because he’s a good guy who doesn’t fuck around and lie. And I found him to be a solid protagonist. And Compston is great in the role. Next we have Lennie James as Anthony Gates, a highly ranked and beloved officer within the police, and the person that Arnott and crew are investigating. He’s a highly determined, charismatic, and skilled policeman who seems like a good guy, but might also have some skeletons in the closet. And James is great in the role. We also get Vicky McClure as Kate, someone within the police whose allegiance is toyed with a bit. Not in a “is she a villain?” kind of way, but more in a “What’s she playing at?” kind of way, and it makes her quite an interesting part of the cast. And McClure is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Adrian Dunbar, Owen Teale, Neil Morrissey, Craig Parkinson, Gina McKee, Kate Ashfield, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Carly Paradis, and it was good. It leans into a lot of piano, and some strings too, creating a dramatic tone that suits the story and character development on display in the series. Not all tracks hit it out of the park for me, as some of them can feel a little overbearing, but I wouldn’t say that I actively dislike any of them. Overall I’d just say that the music here is really good.

The show was created by Jed Mercurio, who also wrote all the episodes, with directing being split between David Caffrey and Douglas MacKinnon. And this teamwork gives us a show with a very gritty and intense look at the world that the characters inhabit. Which is especially impressive considering how much of this show is spent on some of the more mundane aspects of police work, making it tense and exciting through camerawork and clever writing.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #173 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

The first season of “Line of Duty” is an intense ride that I really enjoyed watching. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 1 is a 9,82/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 1 is now completed.

I’m back.