Line Of Duty: Series One
Finally, eighteen months after its début on the BBC, police drama Line Of Duty is seeing a DVD release, just in time for the second series. Plenty of people saw this on its original run; it was BBC2’s highest rated new show for over ten years in June 2012. And with its heavyweight cast, Lennie James, Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar, Gina McKee, Neil Morrissey, and Vicky McClure, all performing at the highest level it was a smash with the critics too.
The story played out over five episodes is one of a highly decorated officer, DCI Tony Gates (a mesmerising James), and the internal affairs (or anti-corruption as we Brits call it) investigation into his record. Weaving in and out of this main story are threads of drug dealing, money laundering, crime lords, extra marital affairs, murders and accidental shootings, with characters wrestling with consciences and loyalties. The counter point to Gates is AC12 officer DS Steve Arnott (an English accented Compston), a man driven by his morals, even when it appears Gates may not be the cut and dried villain AC12 wants him to be. In supporting roles Neil Morrissey flourishes as the trusty lieutenant DC Nigel Morton, friends with Gates for years, and Vicky McClure is strong if a bit sanctimonious as DC Kate Fleming.
The first episode is excellent; it places all the pieces on the chess board and sets up the series perfectly. One it’s great strengths is that none of the characters are black and white, they’re all differing shades of grey. Gates flips between arrogant (“You take a shot at the king, make sure you kill him.”) and vulnerable, Arnott is the nominal moral core, but wobbles at key points. When the key charge against Gates is revealed early on you find yourself questioning the validity of the anti-corruption case against him. From there though it spirals out of control for the DCI. The first twenty minutes of episode three are also standout, there’s a key confrontation between Arnott and Gates which is just the two of them talking in a conference room. It may not sound much but it’s a key scene in the series, and one of the most gripping.
The plot is at times convoluted, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep things moving, but at only five episodes it’s tightly played and ploughs through the story. For the most part this is a thrilling series that turns in ways you’re not expecting, it’s just a pity that the conclusion is a little less satisfactory than hoped for.
The picture and sound quality are excellent, with the Dolby Digital 2 doing what it needs to for a talky BBC drama, which is nothing too exciting. The 16:9 picture has a tiny bit of grain in the dark moments but generally performs well enough. The extras include a behind the scenes, which is a bog standard talking head half hour that has some interesting insight and is framed by showrunner Jed Mercurio, a picture gallery, and cast biography, neither of which are anything you can't find with a quick Google search.