Not much to beat as cops caught in the act

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE mere fact that this se­ries is billed as one of Seven’s sum­mer high­lights should be enough to give the un­wary pause, for com­mer­cial free-to-air net­works rou­tinely see the rat­ings re­cess as an op­por­tu­nity to in­sult viewer in­tel­li­gence with the ac­cu­mu­lated rub­bish bought by their pro­gram­mers dur­ing the year. Ex­ec­u­tives scope them once, then bray in uni­son: ‘‘ Sum­mer high­light.’’

This is my first ex­pe­ri­ence of Holby Blue and my re­ac­tion, af­ter see­ing the open­ing scenes, which in­volve a crys­tal meth ad­dict be­ing kicked into raw meat by a Rus­sian gang­ster, were that it is the lat­est in­car­na­tion of The Bill . And it turns out to be so.

That’s the first dis­ap­point­ment, for if there’s some­thing the world doesn’t need it’s an­other ver­sion of that shadow of its for­mer great­ness.

The next scene is the rou­tine whinge by hard-headed front­line cops DCI Harry Hutchin­son ( Tim Pig­ot­tSmith), DI John Keenan ( Cal Macan­inch) and DS Luke French ( Richard Har­ring­ton), wait­ing im­pa­tiently for head of­fice ap­proval for a drug raid. This bodes even worse.

Keenan, in a fran­tic piece of over­act­ing, com­plains that it’s all fash­ion. ‘‘ Drugs are too ’ 90s, not enough ku­dos. If this was al-Qa’ida we’d be out there with a few tanks and a pock­et­ful of smart bombs.’’

The use of ku­dos in that lit­tle speech is an­other early in­di­ca­tor that you can put your mind in neu­tral, be­cause re­al­ity has fled the build­ing, tear­ing its hair out.

Soon we’re firmly in soap opera ter­ri­tory as the two younger hard­heads, Keenan and French, share mat­ri­mo­nial ex­pe­ri­ences in a corridor. Turns out that Keenan’s ex, Kate ( Zoe Lucker), is start­ing work at the nick that very day. Even some­one

Tough love: DI John Keenan ( Cal Macan­inch) fights his wife more than crime with a white cane and a guide dog can see where this is go­ing.

Your only choice from this point on is the one that has con­fronted view­ers since the ad­vent of tele­vi­sion: will I re­gret los­ing the time I waste watch­ing this tosh?

It’s harm­less enough but lacks the pro­duc­tion val­ues of The Bill ( the only depart­ment in which the lat­est in­car­na­tion is su­pe­rior to the orig­i­nal), and you’ll meet few sur­prises along the way.

Sev­eral sto­ries — one in­volv­ing in­vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion, an­other the stab- bing of rookie PC Lucy Slater ( Elaine Glover) — run through the episode, but the cen­tre­piece is the drug raid against the Rus­sian nasty we met at the beginning.

Be­fore that can hap­pen, Keenan and his ex have a lengthy, over­wrought do­mes­tic while the squad waits in the next room.

Af­ter Keenan even­tu­ally makes an ap­pear­ance, Hutchin­son ex­horts his troops: ‘‘ We’ve got a scum­bag to take care of, let’s go.’’ Not quite Shake­speare, but in this case it’ll have to do.

Mark But­ler

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