Series Review: Luther – Season 1 (2010)

This is a show I’ve only seen an episode or two of over the years. So when I saw that it was leaving Netflix at the end of the month, I felt that it was the perfect time to catch up on the entirety of it over the next few weeks. So look forward to more reviews coming in this little project I’ve decided to call “The Ides of Elba”.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 1.

John Luther (Idris Elba) is a brilliant but rough-around-the-edges police detective as he’s reinstated after an extended absence following a horrible and traumatic case. And we follow him as he works to solve various dark and horrific crimes, all while struggling to keep his personal life together, along with developing an uncomfortable kinship with a deranged young woman (Ruth Wilson). At first glance, “Luther” might have the air of a typical police drama, it manages to stand out partly thanks to a gritty and dark tone, exploring much darker and heavier crime stories. But it also works thanks to the overarching storylines, involving Luther’s past, his tense relationship with his estranged wife (Indira Varma), and his newfound “friendship” with the aforementioned deranged young woman. Yes, there is a lot going on, and it can make the episodes feel slightly long in the tooth at times, but it’s all written with so much nuance and suspense that I can forgive some of the slower and more feet-draggy (that is now a word, shut up) moments. So yeah, the story here’s good.

What I love about the characters of Luther is that none of them are really written in a perfect black and white manner. Everyone’s written with a lot of ambiguity and nuance. Be they “hero”, support, or villain, all of them have many layers to them that make them deeply fascinating. Even our main character, while a policeman who tries to do good and save the day, is written incredibly grey, and it makes him an incredibly compelling character to follow. It also helps that Idris Elba is fucking incredible in the role. The supporting cast is great too. Ruth Wilson, Indira Varma, Steven Mackintosh, Warren Brown, Saskia Reeves, Paul McGann, there’s not a weak link in this cast.

The score was composed by Paul Englishby, and I think he did a really good job with it. Very brooding, very eerie, really helps maintain the gritty vibe that the writing goes for, often elevating the suspense of certain scenes. They also use licensed songs on occasion, and they work really well in their respective scenes. Overall, there’s good music here.

“Luther” was created and written for the BBC by Neil Cross, with direction by various cool people. And I think the craft here is superb. The scenes have a very deliberate pace to them, shots willing to linger for a while, slowly building this creeping suspense that often culminates in really intense and at times even brutal payoffs. It helps bring the material to life in a fresh and exciting way that wasn’t seen that much on tv back in 2010.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #247 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Luther” makes one hell of a first impression, giving us a dark and captivating six episodes that had me (mostly) enraptured from start to end. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Luther” is a 9.44/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 1 is now completed.

Beware the Ides of Elba, for there’s more coming your way…

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…

Movie Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

Well, well, well, look what we have here… someone reading a blog post during the Month of Spooks, ain’t that fun. Anyway, what do we have on the menu today? Wolf stuff? Neat.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Wolf of Snow Hollow”.

When a series of gruesome murders start occurring each full moon in the mountain town of Snow Hollow, the people start speculating that some monster might be on the prowl. Skeptical Officer John Marshall (Jim Cummings) on the other hand is set to prove who might’ve done it, all while trying to care for his teenage daughter (Chloe East) and his ailing father (Robert Forster). “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” mixes elements of procedural cop drama, horror, and dark comedy, and I think it blend together really well. It’s nice and heartwarming, while also being decently suspenseful and even quite funny at times, and I admittedly never really saw where it would ultimately end up. I guess my only issue with it is the short runtime. I am a big proponent of movies that don’t exceed 90 minutes, but here I feel like it hurts the movie a little bit. It makes it feel like it’s rushing through certain sections a bit. Had they had another ten-ish minutes to let certain bits breathe a little more, it would’ve definitely improved it. But as it stands I still enjoyed my time with this story.

The characters in this are all quite colorful, flawed, fun, and pretty nuanced. Jim Cummings (not the Winnie the Pooh one) plays Officer John Marshall, our main protagonist, a troubled man going through a lot of stressful stuff. He’s an interesting character who makes for an excellent lead, with Cummings giving a great performance. Riki Lindhome plays Julia Robson, John’s (much more competent) colleague, and I really like her, she’s a good character, played really well by Lindhome. We also get some damn good supporting work from people like Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Skyler Bible, Will Madden, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Ben Lovett, and I liked it. When things need to be more atmospheric and suspenseful, Lovett gives us some brooding and quite eerie tracks and really helped set the mood nicely. But he also creates these frumpy and kinda bouncy tracks for scenes that are meant to be a bit more comedic. And I think he did a really good job on both styles. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they’re implemented quite well.

“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” was written and directed by its star, Jim Cummings, and I think he did a really good job with it. You can tell that he’s improved a bit as a filmmaker since his debut feature, “Thunder Road”. Not that his direction in that was bad, but there’s a definite step up with this one. It’s kinetic, it’s fun, it’s a bit suspenseful, Cummings just nails it with his direction here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While its brevity does hurt it a bit, I still found “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” to be a really enjoyable little horror-dramedy. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Awoo*. My final score for “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is an 8.45/10. So while it does have flaws, Id’ say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is now completed.

Awoooo, Wolf of Snow Hollow

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.

Movie Review: False Trail (2011)

The Summer of the Swedes continues, this time with the sequel of a film we covered a few weeks back. So that’s fun.

Ladies and gents… “False Trail” (Original title: Jägarna 2).

Stockholm policeman Erik Bäckström (Rolf Lassgård) reluctantly gets called in to help out with a murder investigation in his old hometown in Norrbotten. However, as Erik looks into the case he soon finds that it isn’t as simple as first assumed, all while trying to connect with his estranged nephew (Kim Tjernström). So at first glance it seems like a retread of the first movie. And with it being a 15-years later sequel, you’d be forgiven for not having high expectations. But I’ll be damned, the story here is actually not bad. In fact, I’d say it’s good. It uses a similar blend of police thriller and family drama to the first movie, without ever feeling like a complete retread of it all. It feels like a proper sequel that builds upon the world set up in the first one while also working as its own film. Yes, it ties into the first one a lot, but it recaps enough within its own runtime that would help anyone feel mostly welcome. But yeah, the story here is compelling and dramatic and a little suspenseful too. That said, the pacing does drag a little bit towards the middle and maybe also a little towards the second half, which does drag the experience down a little. But I can still happily say that the narrative here still works quite well.

Much like the story, the characters surprise by having an unexpected amount of depth, making them quite compelling to follow. Rolf Lassgård of course returns as Erik, the big, burly, but sensitive cop returning to his home. We have the layers of the first movie’s setup, while also adding some of the trauma from the end of that one to make for an even more nuanced individual. And Lassgård is fantastic in the role. Next we have Peter Stormare as Torsten, a fellow policeman who lives in the area Erik comes back to. He’s an interesting individual in that you quickly learn that he is one complex son of a bitch. There’s a lot of surprising nuances to him that makes him not only a good character on his own, but also a great foil for Lassgård’s Erik. And Stormare is fantastic in the role. And the supporting cast is great too, with people like Kim Tjernström, Annika Nordin, Lo Kauppi, Eero Milonoff, and more all giving damn good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Johan Söderqvist, and I must say that I might prefer it a bit over the first film’s score. Not that the one in the 1996 film was bad, but the music here relies a little less on the melodramatic sounds of the first one, giving us a score that manages to resonate a bit more, create a much more interesting soundscape.

“False Trail” was directed by Kjell Sundvall, the man behind the 1996 original. And yeah, the dude has stepped up his craft quite a bit. His directing is more intense, being able to create a lot of tension in a scene, all without sacrificing the emotional intimacy that’s so integral to the experience. It helps make for some really investing scenes.

This film has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Pacing issues aside, “False Trail” is a the rare unnecessary sequel that builds upon the first film and makes for another engaging experience. It has a good story, good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “False Trail” is an 8.77/10. So while hampered by those pacing issues, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “False Trail” is now completed.

Crazy bastards did it.

Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Good grief, that title stylization is such a double-edged sword. Looks neat, and is a great piece of wordplay… but god damn, it is a pain to keep in mind when writing it out. Oh well, that’s all the time we’re spending on that, let’s get into the review.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “BlacKkKlansman”!

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is a young, black police officer in the 70s. He’s an ambitious young man, looking to make a real difference. And one way he intends to do this is by starting an undercover operations to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with the help of one of his colleagues (Adam Driver). So now we have our quite unique story setup… and good god damn, I loved seeing how it unfolded. What makes it work so well is how impressively they balance tones. On one hand, it’s an undercover cop movie featuring one of the most horrible organizations in the worlds, which is very serious. But then they also acknowledge the bizarreness of a black man making an attempt to enter the Ku Klux Kunts, and have a bit of fun with that idea. So it manages to both put me on the edge of my seat with some of the darker aspects, and have me smiling at some of the more lighthearted and fun moments. It’s also remarkably fast-paced. The movie has a 135 minute runtime, but I never felt that, it moved at a brisk pace that kept it from getting dull. It doesn’t rush through things though, when it needs to slow down and soak in a moment, it does that. But yeah, it’s well paced and well written and highly entertaining.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, colorful, and overall just quite interesting. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the young cop at the center of this story. He’s smart, highly determined, but also a bit of an underdog considering he’s like the only black officer in the department. And he’s one of the more uniquely compelling protagonists of recent years. And Washington is fantastic in the role. We then have Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, Stallworth’s colleague who joins in on this batshit undercover operation. He’s a bit torn between some various things we learn about him throughout the movie, and it makes him quite fascinating to follow. And Driver is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Michael Buscemi, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Topher Grace, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “BlacKkKlansman” was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was great. There’s a consistent theme that gets woven throughout various tracks, making for a consistent emotional quality while still giving it a few different spins. There are of course a few unique tracks as well, and they are very good too. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has good music.

Based on a book by Ron Stallworth, “BlacKkKlansman” was directed by Spike Lee. And he did a great job, he really brought his A-game here, giving it a fierce energy that makes it stand out among so many movies in recent years. His direction manages to capture the broadness of this whole operation while never sacrificing the intimacy with the characters. And this makes it absolutely electrifying. And Chayse Irvin’s cinematography is stunning, complementing the storytelling wonderfully. There’s also a surprising amount of comedy throughout the movie, and it’s very funny. It helps to digest some of the bizarre and darkly uncomfortable aspects of this story.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best adapted screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best original score, Best director, Best supporting actor (Driver), and Best film editing.

Despite it’s annoying-to-write title, “BlacKkKlansman” is a fantastic and highly unique bio-pic. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing/cinematography, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “BlacKkKlansman” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “BlacKkKlansman” is now completed.

This kind of stuff is why I love movies.

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: City on a Hill – Season 1 (2019)

Crime. Don’t do it. It’s bad. I was gonna do a more clever intro, but couldn’t come up with one. So I guess we should just jump into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s discuss the first season of… “City on a Hill”.

Boston, the 1990s. A group of criminals commit a big robbery. So an attorney (Aldis Hodge) has to team up with a crooked FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) to try to solve this case, which leads them down a spiral that shows us the depths of Boston’s corruption. So now we have our crime-drama. And it’s a good one. The core plot is interesting, even if the writing can be a tiny bit sloppy at times. There are also a few plot threads that, while somewhat interesting, don’t serve a bigger purpose in the story than to fill out the runtime. But when it focuses on the main story, “City on a Hill” is a compelling crime drama that entertains and intrigues.

The characters here are layered, flawed, and overall pretty interesting. Kevin Bacon plays Jackie Rohr, a crooked FBI agent that works to solve the case at the center of the story, while also trying to serve his own ego. He’s an absolute scumbag, but you can also tell that there’s some goodness left in him, somewhere, hidden beneath the booze, coke, and jackassery.  And Kevin Bacon chews the scenery quite hard, which makes for a really enjoyable performance. Aldis Hodge plays Decourcy Ward, the assistant district attorney that Rohr works with to try to solve the core case. Unlike Rohr, Decourcy is straight as an arrow, wanting to do things by the book… but starts showing cracks the more he works with Rohr. So it’s interesting to see him work the case. And while Hodge sometimes seems like he’s half asleep, Hodge generally does a good job in the role. Next we have Jonathan Tucker as Frankie Ryan, one of the people involved in the robbery that helps spark the main plot. He’s a family man, trying to steer clear of trouble, but often gets dragged into shit partly due to previous action or because of his fuck-up of a brother (Mark O’Brien). And he’s certainly one of the more compelling characters in the main cast. And Tucker is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mark O’Brien, Lauren E. Banks, Amanda Clayton, Jill Hennessy, Jere Shea, Kevin Chapman, Kevin Dunn, Sarah Shahi, Rory Culkin, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the series was composed by Kevin Kiner, and I think he did an okay job with it. It’s a bit bland, fitting snuggly in with most crime dramas, but with enough little Celtic elements to make it fit into the Boston setting a bit more. It’s not bad, and it works well enough in the various scenes it can be heard. There are also a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout the season, and they work decently in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Chuck MacLean, with writing by a whole bunch of different people (MacLean included) and direction by other people. And overall I’d say the show is well crafted, creating some decent tension throughout, while also keeping the viewer engaged with some pretty good camerawork. And I rarely mention this, but I have to kind of mention the dialogue, because it sometimes sounds like someone on the crew read a bunch of Dennis Lehane novels and thought “I’ll make my own version of this… ON TV!”. Not complaining, it’s just something I picked up on.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

While not perfect, the first season of “City on a Hill” is still a really solid crime-drama. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “City on a Hill” season 1 is an 8,66/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “City on a Hill” season 1 is now completed.

Boston might have one of the funniest accents around.

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.