Contact me at lucyvictoriabrown@gmail.com because I'm always up for a natter about anything. Well, mostly.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Television Review: Scott & Bailey



I had high hopes for this series. After all, it's a detective programme centred around female police officers working in Manchester. It has Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones in it and was co-created by the wonderful Sally Wainwright, a woman I'd admire even if she wasn't Yorkshire born and bred. However, I have to admit that several episodes of the six episode series left me a little ambivalent.

The series was touted as a show about two colleagues who were friends first and foremost. This really didn't come across in the first episode. Janet Scott(Lesley Sharp) seemed to know less about Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) than the audience did. That ruined the concept somewhat. I will concede, though, that as the series ran on the friendship between them solidified and actually contributed to the detective aspect of things. One criticism my father had (which I agree with) was that the show should really have been called Scott, Bailey and Murray since DCI Gill Murray was as much a part of this series as Scott and Bailey were. Not that I didn't appreciate three women taking the lead on murder investigations for a change.

Some of the crime stories were a little predictable. However, I do think they made up for some of that predictability with the grittiness promised prior to transmission. There was a particularly gruesome scene in episode four where a man was filmed being hacked to pieces. Although we didn't see much I still can't get that scene out of my head. To a seasoned crime pro like my father the plots were average. I liked them, even if it did feel like they were a sideline to whatever personal drama was going on during that episode.

Which brings me to my main criticism - and it isn't even completely the fault of the individual programme. I don't believe that in the UK we commission decent runs of shows. Scott & Bailey was only six episodes long, hardly enough time to engross your audience in the lives of two particular officers and do justice to the crime stories as well. If the personal condundrums had been spread over, say, twelve episodes or perhaps fifteen then each episode wouldn't have felt quite so cluttered. Eight months apparently passed between episode one and episode six - I would've loved to slow down a bit and experience a little more of those months while having more of the individual episodes devoted to the crime story.


The two storylines running throughout the series were Rachel's relationship with slimy barrister Nick Savage and Janet's quest to find the killer of her childhood friend. Overall these worked, although it took suspension of belief to comprehend than a detective as smart as Rachel would be taken in by such a man.

I can't criticise any of the cast. The regulars alongside an excellent supporting cast were enjoyable to watch (or disturbing as the case may be). On balance, I would welcome a recommission by ITV but I'm not certain how the ratings were (and that returns me to an argument about deliberate broadcasting clashes which I won't bore you with). ITV don't have a great record on giving things another try but with such a cast and no doubt some positive intentions for a second series I hope they fight against their history. We need quality drama in this country and not all great dramas have flourished after the first series.

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