Primed and ready

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 by

I moan. I moan too much on here about TV shows. So, let’s redress the balance, albeit with the usual guarded grumbles along the way.

Today was the press screening for the last-ever Prime Suspect (titled “The Final Act”). We journos were treated to the first of two four-hour episodes, and I was impressed. Over the years, the PS franchise has waxed and waned – that period where they did a stretch of self-contained, one-hour (or so) episodes being the nadir (a murder at a golf club! What’s this, A Touch of Frost?). 

The last outing in 2003 certainly tickled the critics, and I seem to recall thinking it was okay, albeit with a theme about people trafficking slapped onto it in the most unsubtle way possible: Look, there’s the immigrant girl! Let’s cue in some wailing music! 

But this was different. A taut, thoughtfully-made tale pitching Tennison into a straight-forward case (a girl goes missing). The subtext about aging and alcohol abuse flows easily and – inevitably – Helen Mirren is fantastic. But topping her performance is the return of Tom Bell, who looks astonishingly frail these days. Watching him sharing a coffee with his former sparring partner is touching … he seems so near death, and so wise.

Alas, I still don’t know how Jane will sign-off from her final case. Retirement in Florida, or death? At the Q&A afterwards, Dame Mirren hinted at the latter (“Who knows, she could return from the grave! Oh … I’ve let the cat out of the bag!”) – but I think she was only being playful.


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