A lot of perfectly good film show their cards early, establish a unique premise and let the audience explore a topic at a leisurely pace, without much in terms of surprise. this film is not one of those films.
Before I start, this review is solely for episode five. Up to this point, I'd give the series a ten but I was to some extent disappointed with this episode which is as far as the ABC here in Australia has got to. The story line is by and large good but there are a number of points that had me annoyed. The first was that Tennison did not need to give the lie she told as witness to O'Duncie's beating. She could easily have contradicted Flowers assertion that she witnessed the events merely by truthfully saying that she had already taken Flower down and that Flower could not have witnessed the beating. If she had to lie, she could have said she did not witness the events as she was walking back up at the time. I realise that this was a plot device to make her 'one of the team' but it seemed clumsy. Secondly, was when Ashton approached the neighbour as the crime was being committed. As he knew they were under surveillance from David Bentley he could have spoken to her then walked of with her thereby appearing to know each other and to remove her from the possibility of a violent outcome. Thirdly, when the police entered the bank why was there no officers entering through the cafe at the same time to prevent any escape that way. Lastly, why wait for them to start opening up the safety deposit boxes. Bradfield said that he wanted to wait until Bentley actually broke into the bank to make his arrest in order for him to get the maximum sentence. The officers could have been waiting in the vault or have the door ready to open and as soon as the gang entered the vault that would have been enough to arrest them. Waiting only makes the damage to the vault and it's contents worse for no possible benefit.
The overall plot was excellent. I thought it was at first too lovey- dovey, but it fits the story line and helped explain why Jane Tennison plays it "close to the vest." Also, the tension between the baby bird leaving the nest, and the parents Tennison added some humanity to the situation. The Bentley gang and interaction between the brothers seemed realistic. I correctly guessed who killed Julie Ann and showed both the underpinnings of the Bentley Gang and reminded me in part of the "Timson Gang" in the "Rumpole of the Bailey" series. I think the BBC has a fine new prequel somewhat comparable to the "Endeavour" prequel.It is better than anything on American commercial television and "TV worth watching". I look forward to next season.
It's 1973. Jane Tennison (Stefanie Martini) is a young probationary police officer in London. She gets coffees and types up reports. She still lives at home with her parents. Her mother disapproves of her life choices. A drug-addicted prostitute is found dead and DI Len Bradfield leads the investigation. Bradfield takes her under his wing and develops a romantic relationship with her. Meanwhile, lifelong criminal Clifford Bentley (Alun Armstrong) is in prison waiting to get released as his family plans a big heist.Stefanie Martini looks to take over the prequel version of the iconic TV character created by Helen Mirren. The biggest question is that if she can match the legendary Mirren. The character maintains her personal flaws and superior mind. She struggles with murky ethics which leads to her later mistakes. Martini shows flashes of acting power but time will tell if she is up to the task. She's definitely plenty cute enough. There is good 70's settings with dirty earth tones. I'm glad they kept the smoking although it's a little toned down. The murder mystery is perfectly fine. Alun Armstrong holds the other end of the story quite well. This is a solid start although a second series is unlikely.
It's excellent all the way around... But it suffers from a common problem. The music is louder than the dialogue. I'm not talking about the songs that are played during transition sequences, I'm talking about the "wall paper" (As randy Newman called it). The music that plays in the background in order to create a mood is just a bit louder than the exchanges between actors. When you turn it up to hear the dialogue the wall paper turns up as well. As I said, I notice this is a common problem in some of the programs produced for Masterpiece. I wonder if it's a translation problem between the U.S. and the U.K. Something to do with direct current vs. Alternating current in the way things were recorded... Maybe it's just bad sound people- maybe it's just me...