Crime fiction is cheerfully described as an addiction by many of its fans, including such diverse personalities as Sigmund Freud and Woodrow Wilson. Just as neurochemical addicts have an endless menu of obsessions to gorge on (alcohol, tobacco, narcotics, gambling, chocolate, sex…), crimefic addicts have an ever-growing and -mutating variety of subgenres to sample. But one sub-subgenre has been with us since the beginning: the literary detective hooked on his or her own addiction, fighting crime as well as the DTs or withdrawal.
The normal British TV depiction of police work goes something like this: the hero DI or DCI and his trusty sidekick badger witnesses and arrest the wrong person a third of the way through the program before finally running down the culprit. If Internal Affairs appears at all, it’s as some annoying git who yaps at Our Hero’s heels and makes his pursuit of truth and justice more arduous than normal, before the IA git is finally shown the door.But what if the IA git was the good guy? What if the hero detective was a showboating philanderer? And what if the entire system of British policing was portrayed as being rife with internecine squabbling, backbiting, fear and loathing, naked ambition, self-serving cover-ups, bureaucratic make-work and a complete inability to protect and serve the public? What would that show be like?Line of Duty (available on Hulu in the U.S.) is what it would be like.
Crossing Lines, NBC’s ten-episode Eurocrime entry into the summer-series derby, probably sounded like a great idea in the pitch meeting. Crime! Europe! Sexy cops! Paris! Donald Sutherland! Europe! The short-run series has done great things for basic cable, and the form’s limited scope (and cost) allows a network to try something new without needing it to become a blockbuster, so this makes all kinds of business sense for NBC. But how does the series work as a story? Well…
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