Bri­tish cop-show im­ports ar­rest­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - BRAD OSWALD

WELL, this cer­tainly has the mak­ings of some jolly good sum­mer fun. If you pre­fer your small-screen de­tec­tives to be pen­sive, prickly and prop­erly Brit-ac­cented, then Sun­day nights are about to be­come ap­point­ment-TV dates in your view­ing sched­ule for the next few hot-weather week­ends.

Two new se­ries ar­rive Sun­day — one on Cana­dian spe­cialty ca­ble’s Bravo chan­nel, the other as the lat­est ad­di­tion to PBS’s Mas­ter­piece/Mys­tery! ros­ter — and while they’re dif­fer­ent in tone and tem­per­a­ment, each is a wor­thy ad­di­tion to any cop-show lover’s must-see list.

First up is The Fall (Sun­day at 8 p.m. on Bravo), a BBC im­port that brings Gil­lian An­der­son back to TV in her first se­ries-lead role since The X-Files. An­der­son, who has lived mostly in Eng­land since The X-Files ended in 2002, ar­rives on­screen as a dis­tinctly Lon­donac­cented de­tec­tive su­per­in­ten­dent who has been dis­patched to Belfast to re­view a mur­der case that has con­founded the Ul­ster city’s con­stab­u­lary.

As DS Stella Gib­son, An­der­son is soft-spo­ken but de­ter­mined to get di­rectly to the point as she quickly con­cludes the mur­der case she’s ex­am­in­ing is not an iso­lated in­ci­dent, but in­stead may be part of a se­ries of killings com­mit­ted by the same at­tacker.

This se­rial-killer the­ory ran­kles the Belfast P.D.’s mostly male crew of old-school de­tec­tives, but The Fall’s dual sto­ry­lines un­fold in a man­ner that shows view­ers im­me­di­ately she is cor­rect in her as­ser­tion. At the same time we watch Gib­son sift through the ev­i­dence for clues, we also look in on fam­ily coun­sel­lor Paul Spec­tor (Jamie Dor­nan), who main­tains a day­light-hours iden­tity as a loving hus­band and fa­ther while ven­tur­ing out at night to stalk, as­sault and mur­der young women in var­i­ous parts of Belfast.

It’s an in­trigu­ing nar­ra­tive choice, but giv­ing view­ers the an­swer to the “who­dunit?” part of the equa­tion right off the top af­fords The Fall’s writ­ers a unique op­por­tu­nity to delve deep into the char­ac­ters — both the cops and the crim­i­nal.

The Fall is a de­lib­er­ately paced five-part thriller that de­mands a bit of pa­tience as it sets up its sto­ry­lines, but those who stick with it will be rewarded by some great per­for­mances and an over­all cop-show yarn that is both creepy and com­pelling.

This time around, it’s the au­di­ence that knows some­thing (evil) is out there, and watch­ing An­der­son, as Gib­son, search for an­swers is great fun, in­deed.

Also ar­riv­ing on Sun­day is En­deav­our: Se­ries 1 (9 p.m. on PBS), a four-episode col­lec­tion of mysteries fea­tur­ing a youth­ful, new-to-the-job ver­sion of the cop­per who would even­tu­ally be­come In­spec­tor Morse.

As por­trayed by Shaun Evans, young En­deav­our Morse is a rookie crime-solver with the circa-1960s Ox­ford po­lice depart­ment; he clearly has the in­stincts that will one day make him a great in­ves­ti­ga­tor, but his older, set-in-their-ways su­pe­ri­ors aren’t all that open to ideas and/or the­o­ries that de­vi­ate from the norm.

In the se­ries opener (a pilot for En­deav­our aired on PBS in 2011), the Ox­ford de­tach­ment’s de­tec­tives are sum­moned to a mu­ni­tions fac­tory af­ter a worker is found mur­dered in a stor­age room on the same day the plant’s own­ers host a royal visit that could land the com­pany a ma­jor con­tract for pro­duc­ing of a new mis­sile sys­tem.

The body is dis­cov­ered, a sus­pect is iden­ti­fied, and an ar­rest is made... but Morse thinks they’ve got the wrong man, and sets out — de­spite the ob­jec­tions of his bosses that dig­ging into the lives of the plant’s aris­to­cratic own­ers might cause em­bar­rass­ment for the po­lice depart­ment — to find the real killer.

It doesn’t blaze any new trails into the de­tec­tive­yarn realm, but En­deav­our is en­gag­ing and sat­is­fy­ing, thanks to its sim­pler-times pe­riod set­ting and solid per­for­mances by Evans as young Morse and Roger Allam as his part­ner and men­tor, Det. Insp. Fred Thurs­day. He sees value and po­ten­tial in young Morse while the other Ox­ford cops sim­ply view his be­hav­iour as an­noy­ingly am­bi­tious.

As one-two pro­gram­ming punches go, the samenight ar­rival of The Fall and En­deav­our de­liv­ers a very solid shot to a pre­vi­ously sleepy Sun­day sched­ule.

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