Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Vote for CrimeTimePreview!

CrimeTimePreview is in the running for a National UK Blog Award.

I've been covering crime TV dramas for more than four years, and have been delighted by the feedback and enthusiasm the site has received from many thousands of visitors.

The launch of CrimeTimePreview coincided with an explosion of crime and thriller serials on TV from around the world. One of the earliest posts I did was 10 Reasons Why The Killing Is the Best Thing on TV, which really hit a chord with viewers, receiving hundreds of comments.

So, Nordic noir had arrived and along with modern classics from the US, such as Breaking Bad and True Detective, helped to spark a revival in UK crime dramas too. Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Sherlock and The Fall have all been hugely popular and raised the standard of British TV drama.

Anyway, to progress in this year's Awards, we need your votes. We'd appreciate if you could just take a moment to CLICK HERE above and vote for us.

Many thanks for your support – and happy viewing!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Babylon, C4, James Nesbitt, Brit Marling PREVIEW

Rating: ★★★½

Channel 4: starts Thursday, 13 November, 10pm

Story: Director of Communications Liz Garvey begins in earnest the job of trying to drag the police into the new media age. Meanwhile, it’s the job of Commissioner Richard Miller, Deputy Commissioner Charles Inglis and Assistant Commissioner Sharon Franklin to keep the force ticking over. 

FOLLOWING its well-received pilot episode back in February, Babylon is back on the beat for a six-part run of law and disorder.

It's firmly in the realm of the Beeb's nice little dig at the London Olympics in Twenty Twelve, poking fun at modern marketing speak and corporate arse-covering, rather than being a biting satire about the Metropolitan Police.

Let's face it, the Met, with its rap sheet of controversies over Stephen Lawrence, Tory Andrew Mitchell, the undercover surveillance, Hackgate and the rest, is hardly a laughing matter.

Brit Marling as Liz

So, Babylon – exec-produced by Danny Boyle – has fun with the media and management side of the
force, starting with American media guru Liz Garvey (Brit Marling) and the floundering honchos Commissioner Miller (James Nesbitt, a long way from Missing here), his deputy, Inglis (Paterson Joseph), and assistant Franklin (Nicola Walker).

And here is one of the strengths of the show – the cast are fun to watch, particularly Nicola Walker as the eye-rolling assistant commissioner, dealing with incompetence from above, below and from the private sector.

The opening episode sees her officers called in to help the private security firm running a young offenders institution when violence breaks out. Meanwhile, Paterson Joseph's deputy commissioner is busy trying to work out whether to tell the world the incident is a disturbance, a severe disturbance or a riot.

Video of Warwick shooting an unarmed assailant 

Writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong delight in showing us this world in which police high-flyers
are more concerned with appearances than getting things done.

Brit Marling is also a great spanner in the works as Liz, trying to get her boss Commissioner Miller to be a little less passive-aggressive in his dealings with the media, while also boring her female colleagues stupid in the wine bar after work by banging on about the Met's 'brand'.

The lower ranks also have to deal with her new ideas. Armed response office Warwick's nerves are shredded when she releases footage of him shooting an unarmed assailant in a show of openness from the Met – the public think we're all 'trigger-happy meatheads'.

Er, no comment.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Elementary 3, Sky Living, with Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu PREVIEW

Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller), Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond), Watson (Lucy Liu) in Elementary: Enough Nemesis to Go Around
Three's a crowd? Holmes, Kitty and Watson. Pics: BSkyB
Rating: ★★★

Sky Living: starts Tuesday, 11 November, 9pm

Story: Sherlock tries to build bridges with Watson as he returns to New York with a new apprentice in tow. 

THEY SAID it would never work, that it was the Americans trying to copy the success of the Beeb's brilliant Sherlock, that 'Elementary, my dear Watson' was never said by the great sleuth in Conan Doyle's novels. But here Elementary is, back for a third series.

OK, it's not as witty or tricky or clever as Sherlock, but this modern-day transplant of the detective to New York is always good fun. Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are inspired casting, and really make the odd-couple dynamic come alive. It always has just enough intrigue, eccentricity and humour to make it an amusing hour.

Part of the problem for the writers, however, is that they need to keep juggling the undercurrent of potential romance, because if Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson do ever fall into a clinch, it's show over. It'll be out of plot, or turn into McMillan & Wife.

Captain Gregson has a replacement for Holmes

They certainly are far away from any emotional entanglement in this series opener (of a 24-part run).
A frosty welcome for Sherlock
Their relationship is in tatters after their falling out over Sherlock's brother, Mycroft. Watson has left the Holmes's brownstone home while Holmes has been in London doing a few shifts for MI6.

Now he's back, looking a bit Forrest Gumpish with his buttoned-up shirt, sheepishly apologising to stony-faced Watson and trying to wheedle his way back into working for Captain Gregson.

Neither welcome the sleuth with open arms, particularly Watson, who now has her own spot on Gregson's team.

New face Kitty Winter

Fortunately, there is a devilishly tricky murder to sort out and Sherlock's nous could come in handy. It's a closed room mystery – or closed elevator mystery (with a suitably madcap solution) – involving the shooting of a detective and a key witness against arch criminal and guest star Gina Gershon.
Lucy Liu and Gina Gershon in Elementary
Watson confronts Allison March

Sherlock also has a new apprentice in tow, Brit gal Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond), who tangles with Watson when they come to blows in the street.

It is possible to detect a few clues to a thawing in the stand-off between Holmes and Watson by the end of the episode, but Kitty should stir the plot up nicely in coming weeks.

Cast: Jonny Lee Miller Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu Dr Joan Watson, Aidan Quinn Captain Tobias Gregson, Jon Michael Hill Detective Marcus Bell, Ophelia Lovibond Kitty, Raza Jaffrey Andrew, Gina Gershon Allison March

Monday, 10 November 2014

Stalker, Sky Living, with Maggie Q, Dylan McDermott PREVIEW

Stalker - Series 01.Gallery..Maggie Q as Detective Beth Davis and Dylan McDermott as Detective Jack Larsen...© Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
Dark side – stalker hunters Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott. Pics: BSkyB
Rating: ★★½

Sky Living: starts Monday, 10 November, 10pm

Story: Thriller about two damaged detectives out to catch stalkers in LA.

A DRAMA about stalking is potentially interesting, if disturbing. There are series about child abductions and serial killers that manage to be serious about the subject and the victims of these crimes, and that get the tone right

Stalker, a new series from CBS in the States, gets the tone and a lot else wrong. It's described as a 'psychological thriller', but it's too facile to scratch the surface of a complex crime.

It is written by Kevin Williamson, who has form when it comes to scenarios in which women are chased and murdered by masked men. He wrote Scream.

Stalker is in its own way voyeuristic

So, Stalker begins with a cheap shot – a masked man pouring petrol over a terrified woman and then setting light to her and her car, which explodes. The screams ring out.

In terms of the violence of the scene, this is nothing extraordinary in comparison to series such as, say, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos. But the context is depressing – the woman is not a character in any sense, just a terrorised victim whose gruesome end is used to hook viewers into the show.
Stalker - Season 01.Episode 01 "Pilot".Dylan McDermott as Detective Jack Larson, Maggie Q as Detective Beth Davis, Victor Rasuk as Detective Ben Caldwell, Mariana Klaveno as Detective Janice Lawrence..©2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
The team – detectives Caldwell, Larsen, Davis and Lawrence

Series such as The Killing and Broadchurch have recently raised television's game in telling stories that show the human devastation caused by such violent crimes, not using these moments for voyeuristic thrills.

Anyway, Maggie Q plays detective Beth Davis, head of an LAPD unit tasked with tracking down stalkers. Dylan McDermott is Jack Larsen, a homicide cop from New York, who is appointed to her unit. Continued…

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Fall 2, BBC2, with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan PREVIEW

The Fall - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  DSI Stella Gibson (GILLIAN ANDERSON), Paul Spector (JAMIE DORNAN)  - (C) The Fall 2 L
DSI Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). Pics: BBC
Rating: ★★★★½

BBC2: starts Thursday, 13 November, 9pm

Story: It has been ten days since Paul Spector told DSI Stella Gibson that she would never catch him. As Gibson tries in vain to help Spector’s surviving victim remember the identity of her attacker, Spector is forced to deal with the loose ends that he left behind in Belfast.

SERIES ONE of The Fall had its uncomfortable moments of violence against women and the brutal murder of a victim's brother in its final episode. The second series' opener again spends a lot of time in the spine-chilling company of serial killer Paul Spector, but the horror is kept at bay – for now at least.

Instead, we get closer to the characters. Things are not going too well for the arch fantasist and evil
manipulator Spector, played with pent-up menace again by Jamie Dornan.

He's now in Scotland, to where he fled with his wife and children after taunting DSI Stella Gibson at the end of the last series. However, his estranged wife, Sally, has returned to Belfast, and Annie Brawley, the dark-haired young accountant of his last thwarted attack in the Shankill, has given police a description of him.

Spector returns to Belfast

Gibson is also working hard to get a proper statement from Rose Stagg, the woman who was an early
Paul Spector (JAMIE DORNAN)  - (C) The Fall 2
Losing control? Spector
survivor of the killer's. Finally, there is the problem of Katie, the 15 -year-old family babysitter he got rough with.

When he returns to Belfast to tackle these blips in his well-ordered campaign of murder, Katie taunts him about the lock of hair that he kept, one of his trophies. She stirs trouble for Spector with his wife…

So, while initially steering away from the shocks and violence, writer/director Allan Cubitt opens up the second series by posing new problems and possibilities for Gibson and Spector. Continued…

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ripper Street 3 premieres on Amazon Prime, November 14

Ripper Street is dead. Long live Ripper Street.

The lurid Victorian crime drama axed by the Beeb will return for a third series on 14 November, following the deal done with subscription streaming channel Amazon Prime Instant Video. New episodes will be released on the service every Friday.

This was a classic case of a show's fans petitioning for a cherished series to be saved, all of which became possible because Amazon is one of the subscription services that is hungry for exclusive content and has the money to throw at it. They are also promising an extended length 'Amazon cut' of exclusive content that won't appear on the BBC's version.

Check out the trailer above and it's clear the series will be as action and violence packed as ever. The original cast has also been reassembled, including Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and MyAnna Buring.

It will be interesting to see whether Amazon has injected more money and higher production values into its adopted baby. Will newcomers such as Amazon and Netflix give a fresh lease of life to more series in future over which the traditional networks have got cold feet?

Link: Ripper returns to Amazon Prime Instant Video

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Crime Thriller Award winners 2014 – best crime fiction and TV shows of the year

Here are the results of tonight's 2014 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.

CrimeTimePreview predicted all the correct winners apart from one – that was Keeley Hawes nabbing Best Actress over Sarah Lancashire. Still, Keeley Hawes put in a terrific performance in Line of Duty 2 and deserves the plaudits.

James Norton also won his first ever award for his chilling portrayal in Happy Valley. Here are the winners in full…

Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards Winners are:

Keeley Hawes for Line of Duty – Dagger for Best Actress

Matthew McConaughey for True Detective – Dagger for Best Actor

James Norton for Happy Valley – Dagger for Best Supporting Actor

Amanda Abbington for Sherlock – Dagger for Best Supporting Actress

Happy Valley – Dagger for Best TV Series
Actor James Norton before Crime Thriller Awards 2014
James Norton being interviewed before the awards

True Detective – Dagger for Best International TV Series

Cold in July – Dagger for Best Film

Peter May – Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year

Wiley Cash – CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger

Ray Celestin – CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger

Robert Harris – CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year

Denise Mina, Robert Harris and Midsomer Murders were inducted into the Hall of Fame

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Fall 2 trailer

Jamie Dornan, so unforgettable as the murderer in BBC2's The Fall, alongside Gillian Anderson, says he was shaking when he read Allan Cubitt's outline for the follow-up series. Here's a taster…