I confess, my favourite genre for TV series is the same as for fiction, police procedurals. I watch on catch-up as during the evening I’m busy writing which also means I can watch two or more episodes at a time. I came across a series I hadn’t seen before on the BBC, strange as I usually keep up with what’s showing. It seems that London Kills was shown during the day which also accounted for its length, and it had first been shown in the States. It is set in London as the title suggests, and there are two series of five episodes each and was written and created by Paul Marquess. Each series had an on-going story line concerning a missing person, as well as individual crimes which were investigated. The only actor I actively knew was Sharon Small, but it also starred Hugo Speer whose name rang a bell but I couldn’t actually remember him from any of the many other TV shows he had been in. There were two other prominent characters, played by Bailey Patrick and Tori Allen-Martin. These four were police officers, Speer being the lead DI, David Bradford, returned from leave of absence due to his wife being the missing woman, Stone being his DS, Vivienne Cole who had hoped to take over the unit, Rob Brady, senior detective constable, and trainee detective constable, Billie FitzGerald.
From the beginning it had a flashy, modern, American look, stunning scenic shots of London looking its sparkling best, bright, clean, beautiful and inviting. Having watched so many Brit-cop shows I have to say the offices the police unit worked out of were nothing like I’ve ever seen before – but I’m but a police officer so what do I know about real police departments. The rooms were vast, huge windows, wide shiny corridors, everything clean and spacious. When suspects were interviewed it was at a table in the middle of a vast windowless room, with just the officer or her/him and a colleague and rarely a solicitor present. I began to wonder when it was set, some time in the future? I guessed that since it was first shown in the States, maybe it was styled to impress over there as it didn’t seem very realistic to me. Never mind, it’s all a fiction, so I accepted, and I admit rather liked the look.
From the beginning there seemed to be a distinct lack of extras; if there was an incident, there may have been a couple of police officers, but not the usual swarm, and few minor characters with speaking parts. Usually there are forensic teams, admin staff, casual others, but here there were just a few silent extras. Because I knew nothing about it, it struck me as odd, not bad, but just strange, but of course now I know it was for a different type of audience it makes sense. The individual story-lines were engaging, but I still felt as if I was watching a series one act plays with a small cast. The on-going missing wife story-line was eventually resolved in the last episode, and until its resolution I didn’t guess whether she had run away, been murdered, held prisoner, or whether her disappearance would ever be explained.
I can’t fault the acting, particularly that of Sharon Small; however, it all seemed somehow awkward, as if the actors were trying their best but constrained by the direction, and although it was supposed to be a team which knew well, apart from the new acting DC, they seemed strangers to each other. It’s only my opinion but I didn’t feel it was very well directed, especially the first series; I know it must take time for a team of actors to work easily with each other, but in this case it all seemed… well, awkward. I felt as if the actors were desperate to throw off whatever was restraining them. I was sufficiently interested to watch both series and only when I had, did I try to find out more about it. This is what Wikipedia says:
The series follows on from Marquess’ former London-based police procedural series Suspects, and aside from the cast, features a number of striking similarities, including a documentary-style feel and an ad-lib script allowing the cast to partially improvise their lines based upon a given synopsis.
I didn’t see Suspects, but this comment makes sense!