Criminal Acts

           

Robin is a journalist with a long rap sheet of jobs in TV magazines, from Radio Times to the Daily Mirror's We Love Telly.

 

SHERLOCK

BBC1 from Sunday, 1 January, 8.10pm

When Sherlock launched in July 2010 – the summer silly season when no big-hitting shows are unveiled – the Beeb didn’t seem confident of the Sherlock Holmes contemporary reboot starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

 But following the awards – including a Bafta, US Satellite Award and CWA Dagger – rave reviews and terrific viewing figures, the second series of three 90-minute mysteries is ready to air, and there’s no half-hearted scheduling this time. Sherlock 2 deservedly takes pride of place on New Year’s Day, with a dazzling opener from Steven Moffat.

 A Scandal in Belgravia is mysterious, witty and sexy. The latter feature comes in the form  Lara Pulver as Irene Adler, a woman with a whiplash intellect and, oddly enough, a dab hand with a whip. In this modern incarnation, the woman who dominates Sherlock’s thoughts is an S&M specialist who happens to have spirited away a stash of compromising photos that threaten to topple the British establishment.

 Once Holmes has rescued Watson from Moriarty to resolve series one's cliffhanger, the pair get tied up with Irene, CIA rogue agents, a murder, rescuing Mrs Hudson and foiling terrorists. But the plot shenanigans take second place to the sparring between Holmes and Irene, Holmes and Watson, and Holmes and Mycroft.

 'I'll be mother,' Mycroft says, pouring the tea.

 Holmes replies, 'And there is a whole childhood in a nutshell.'

 There are so many lovely scenes, such as Holmes being summoned to Buckingham Palace wearing just a sheet, and when he headbutts a CIA officer. 'Moron,' he says.

 2012 gets off to a fabulous start with this dashing firecracker of a show. The Hounds of Baskerville and The Reichenbach Fall are the next twists on the Holmes legend, as co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat go for the serving up three of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous tales sooner rather than later.

 'Instead of making people wait years and years, we thought – to hell with deferred pleasure, let's just do it now, more, sooner, faster!' says Moffat. 'That also means we see three different sides to Sherlock. We have Sherlock and love, Sherlock and fear and Sherlock and death. He definitely goes through the mill in this new series.'

 

ABOVE SUSPICION: SILENT SCREAM

ITV1, from Wednesday, 11 January, 9pm

 

Photo © ITV

Detective Inspector Anna Travis may be the most unlikely high-flying detective on TV, but 6-million viewers clearly like the actress playing her, Kelly Reilly, and Above Suspicion has become a strong player for ITV1.

 Silent Scream is Lynda La Plante’s fourth Travis drama on the channel since 2009. A glamorous movie star, Amanda Delany (played by newcomer Joanna Vanderham fresh from Martina Cole’s The Runaway), is murdered after returning home from a shoot.

 Travis uncovers the truth behind public sheen of the star’s life, including drug use, her betrayal of friends, issues with her cold father, her marriage-breaking affairs and Delany’s suspicion that her agent was embezzling her. The list of possible suspects is long.

 Meanwhile, Travis’s boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Langton (Ciarán Hinds), with whom she has a ‘complex’ relationship, has missed out on a promotion after someone on his team secretly smeared his reputation. In between lovesick glances at Travis and barking out orders to the murder team, Langton starts digging to find the colleague who sabotaged his career.

 Anyone who likes a police procedural about a lurid case with plenty of suspects and a very glamorous lead detective should definitely set aside three hours for Silent Scream.

 

ENDEAVOUR

ITV1, Monday, 2 January, 9pm

Photo © ITV

A lot of Inspector Morse admirers have had fingers crossed that this prequel to the much-loved series will live up to expectations. Well, it's a good mystery that sensitively fills in much of the grumpy detective's background, and Shaun Evans very watchable as the melancholy young Endeavour.

 

It is set in 1965 when a teenage schoolgirl goes missing in Oxford. Morse, who did Greats at the university without completing his degree, is a young detective called in to help with the investigation because he is familiar with the area. By showing initiative he immediately rubs his boss, DS Arthur Lott, up the wrong way.

 

But his theory that the girl was being communicated with by her lover via a crossword puzzle is proved correct, and as the case spirals into political and police corruption with national implications, Morse finds an ally in the most senior detective, DI Fred Thursday (a fatherly performance from Roger Allam).

 

It's a suitably grand case for this one-off film, and there isplenty of conflict and heartache for Morse in it, with the case blowing up in his face and his infatuation with an opera singer married to a potential suspect.

 

The much-loved original, which ran for 33 episodes from 1987 to 2000, starred John Thaw as Morse and Kevin Whately as his sidekick, Lewis, setting the standard for UK police procedurals. Thaw died relatively young at 60 in 2002, and while Lewis, of course, is still with us on ITV1, the temptation to resurrect Morse somehow was too good to let slip away.

 

The drama, written with skill and insight by Russell Lewis, gives us glimpses into Morse's past, his upbringing, how he became a beer drinker (cheers, DI Thursday), his love of classical music, and even how the Jag caught his eye.

 

Charlie Creed-Miles is menacing and seedy as a spiv with connections, and there is a role for John Thaw's daughter, Abigail, who plays an employee of a local newspaper.

 

All in all, a terrific tribute to Inspector Morse on the 25th anniversary of its first episode. A full-blown series from ITV can’t be far behind.

 

HUSTLE

BBC1 from Friday, 6 January, 9pm

Fans of Tony Jordan’s cheeky grifter series will be saddened by news that this is the last outing for Hustle. The opener has the usual trademark slickness and wit as the gang take on gold fraudster Dexter Gold (played by Paterson Joseph).

 

Hustle has been going since 2004 and there has been a lot of fun along the way – remember Marc Warren and Adrian Lester running naked through Trafalgar Square? And it’s been great to see Robert Vaughn on such charming form.

 

The last series should be a fitting finale with cameos – including Liverpool FC legend Ian Rush in the opener, and the return of Jaime Murray as Stacie Monroe in the final episode, which is promised to be the con to end all cons.

 

Many will miss it, but just remember, 20th Century Fox has the film rights and Tony Jordan is working on a film script. You never know…

 

Five new dramas to look out for in 2012

Hit and Miss, Sky Atlantic

Chloe Sevigny, Peter Wight, Jonas Armstrong

This is one of the most interesting looking crime dramas for 2012. Chloe Sevigny plays Mia, a contract killer with a secret – she's a transgender woman.

 

Nemesis, BBC1

Melissa George, Adam Rayner

In a joint production with HBO, Kudos – makers of the now decommissioned Spooks – are producing this international espionage series. Nemesis is an eight-parter starring Grey's Anatomy and Alias actress Melissa George.

 

Inside Men, BBC1

Steven Mackintosh, Ashley Walters, Warren Brown

Three employees of a security depot  plan and execute a multi-million pound cash heist.

 

The Scapegoat, ITV1

Matthew Rhys, Eileen Atkins, Sheridan Smith, Jodhi May

Daphne du Maurier's dark story of switched identities could be a real treat. Set in 1952 as England prepares for the Coronation, John Standing and Johnny Spence (both played by Matthew Rhys, who stars in the US series Brothers and Sisters) meet in a station bar.

 

Line of Duty, BBC2

Vicky McClure, Martin Compston, Lennie James, Gina McKee, Neil Morrissey

In this cat-and-mouse thriller about modern policing, This Is England's Vicky McClure is a detective constable who, with detective sergeant Steve Arnott (Compston) are part of an anti-corruption unit investigating a popular and successful officer.

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