Here is an original police series! We have an officer with all the tact of a Doc Martin and the sensitivities of a Monk, DS Sean Stone, played with an utterly straight face by Reece Shearsmith. At a press conference designed to praise the police for catching a criminal, Stone criticizes them for not catching him sooner. Result: he is demoted to Missing Persons.
There he meets Ruth Hattersley (Alex Kingston), a woman who knows her job but cannot connect with the self-isolating Stone. He won't even share his car with her, because he does his thinking best when alone. DI Prior (Noel Clarke) is given the unwelcome task of seeing that Stone sticks to professional standards; but much of the fun in this series comes from Stone's being his own man.
This is the basic situation that serves as background to the two stories that make up "Chasing Shadows," now available on an Acorn DVD.
This is not a comedy. The first two-part tale concerns a suicide website for teens; the second is about a serial killer whose victims are all mentally challenged. The humor of the Stone-Hattersley relationship is gently integrated into the plots. Giving Hattersley a slightly problematic son is part of the clichéd family relationships that have been introduced into so many police shows in past decades. However, not much time is spent on it at the expense of the mystery at hand.
Kingston is absolutely marvelous as the utterly believable Missing Persons investigator and is the perfect foil to Shearsmith's unbending characterization of Stone. I can easily recommend this series. And thanks, Acorn, for the subtitles.
By way of contrast comes "Harry," also on the Acorn Label, a New Zealand police drama that draws upon every cliché of other police series. It stars Oscar Kightley as Detective Harry Anglesea, a Samoan, with lots of family problems and his boss played by Sam Neill. There are six episodes and I gave up after the first two.
I taught in a junior high where all I heard were four-letter obscenities from many of the students. Now that script writers cannot form four sentences with using the "f" word in its different forms, I am thoroughly sick of hearing it. In "Harry," the bad guys use it in every second sentence, the police in every third. I will simply reject any show that depends on it for "realism." Yes, people do talk like that. But not in my home. So in the future, I will refuse to review all shows with such verbal pollution.