Chasing Shadows / The Suspicions of Mr Whicher / Scott and Bailey

Much like little Gizmo (from the Gremlins movie) the two ITV cop shows from last week have spawned a third, and it’s a welcome return for Scott and Bailey the 10’s version of Cagney and Lacey, except utterly British.

But lets start at the bottom, and it'll be quick, the second episode of new police drama Chasing Shadows improved the tiniest bit on the opening episode. The acting is still uniformly awful, although on the plus side Reece Shearsmith was much better. The story was all a bit “meh”, and the ending was positively signposted from the first minute of the show. Sadly though there won’t be a review of the third or fourth episodes as there are better things to do in life.

As last week much much better was Sunday night’s The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher which is growing in quality with each story, which makes it more of a shame that this was the second of the two episodes in this run. Paddy Considine is perfectly pitched as the hangdog but thorough Jack Whicher, who is on a case of infidelity as his self styled “private inquiry agent”.

Whicher… has everything you’d want from a period drama, an authentic cast, great sets and costume design (if a little too clean and sparkly), and some authentic sideburns and beards. The acting is uniformly quality, even the comedy copper, and the story keeps you guessing. What starts off as a tale of marital infidelity turns into a whodunnit incorporating murder, deceit, lots of Wiltshire / Gloucestershire accents, and a surprising twist of incest at the end. Yes incest. Not your usual reason for murder on a Sunday night show , can’t see Hercule Poirot having to deal with that. Still it all leaves you wanting more of these capers.

The return of Rachel and Janet (aka Scott and Bailey) is one of the most welcome this autumn. After the massive success, with critics and audiences alike, of Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax it’s great to see Sally Wainwright return to her cop creations for a fourth series. The genius of the show is that you can dive straight in with this new series and not feel like you’ve missed out on the previous three years, yet avid fans have all sorts of background to give additional depth to the characters.

This fourth time rounds carries on the traditions and patterns well fixed for the show, the quickfire discussions between the three leads (Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore), the strong supporting cast of blokes, the time skipping technique of relaying witness statements, and the attention to detail of the private lives.

As good as the supporting team are the show revolves around the likability and charisma of dual leads Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp, and their ability to deliver the sometime wordy and complex dialogue that adds weight to the show. The start of a cracking story all makes this a definite one to watch as the nights begin to draw in, and a shining example of British TV at its best.

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