Rush of justice brings cold comfort to crims
Cold Case 8.30pm, Nine
THE best Cold Case episodes are the ones that delve back decades to mine rich veins of nostalgia. Those set in the 1970s, with their flashbacks of hippie headbands and protest music, work particularly well. The set and costume designers create the perfectly detailed look. And where else are you going to hear Dancing Queen on prime- time television?
Tonight’s episode is set in 2002, which is recent enough for most of the guest actors to be used for both past and present. Such a slim time gap can be a disappointment as one of the genius factors of Cold Case is the way yesterday’s characters are matched to today’s greyer and ( usually) stouter versions. Almost without exception, it’s like looking at the progression from child to adult.
Detective Lilly Rush ( Kathryn Morris), with her fine- china complexion and gorgeous smile, is still the alpha female star, but series four episodes, tonight’s included, give more latitude to other members of one of TV drama’s best ensemble casts. This is good for two reasons: we can stop focusing on why Rush can’t afford a hairdresser ( although her blonde locks have become more groomed) and my partner can drool over her a little less.
My revenge is to dribble over special agent Jethro Gibbs ( Mark Harmon) in NCIS : not so much for his clean- cut looks but his inspirational personnel management style.
Rush’s fellow detective Kat Miller ( Tracie Thoms) is in the thick of things tonight as the crew looks into two seemingly unrelated shootings that occurred at 8.03am on different sides of Philadelphia. Dead are a middle- class student with a straight- A report card and a small- time drug dealer who’s back at school to get his life on track. The puzzle unfolds to a U2 soundtrack against the crack houses and tenements of north Philly and, as usual, instead of ballistics and DNA providing the clues, we have spade- loads of empathy and intuition.
Thoms is in terrific form: as a junior undercover narcotics cop, she was the first on the scene when the reformed dealer was shot and he died cradled in her arms. On the fifth anniversary of his death, she’s determined to solve the case.
It’s no spoiler to reveal the perps are caught. Closure is what Cold Case is all about and that’s why we love it. It’s justice come full circle, despite the odds. Unlike Law & Order, where juries may acquit the villains, there are few moral or legal conundrums here. Cold Case doesn’t offer the irresistible capering of Amanda Redman and her band of over- the- hill coppers in New Tricks or the dark psychological puzzles of Waking the Dead , but it’s rare indeed for Rush and co to fail to deliver.
Turn up the heat: Kathryn Morris as detective Lilly Rush