Here comes the top 10…
We’re almost ready to unveil this year’s winner of (what we think) is the best crime drama of the year.
But first, we get to the top 10, where the standards start to really get a bit tasty. So who’s in there?
10. We Own This City
(Sky Atlantic in the UK)
The world sits up and takes notice when David Simon makes another TV series. The Wire is correctly regarded as the greatest drama of all time, while we also loved The Deuce. Simon once again teams up with celebrated novelist George Pelecanos for this intense six-part series, which once again sees Simon go back to Baltimore. While The Wire had plenty of elements of truth in it, We Own This City is based on a true story – that of corrupt Sgt Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal) of the Gun Trace Task Force. Jenkins is the tip of the iceberg, and in true Simon style, there’s a 360-degree examination of a system in which an arrogant thug of an officer can achieve the notoriety he achieved. Bernthal delivers a fine performance, as does the entire, huge ensemble cast, but really We Own This City is another dense, forensic study of a collapsing system… the type of story in which Simon excels like no other on the planet.
9. The Capture (Series 2)
(BBC One in the UK)
Holliday Grainger returns as security operative DI Rachel Carey in this thrilling, scary high-concept drama. Series two looks at how terrifyingly real deep fake technology can be used for ill gain, in this case, stitching up and manipulating hotly-tipped security minister Issac Turner (Paapa Essiedu) whose very identity is stolen and moulded for the bad guys’ ends. We see Turner’s actual face and voice replicated to make him say things on national TV he simply does not say. Trying to find her way through it all, as well as bring those responsible for creating this technology down, is Carey. We get plenty of familiar thriller beats in this second series, but equally some bold, thought-provoking and fresh thinking.
READ MORE: ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEWS OF THE CAPTURE
8. Shetland (Series 7)
(BBC One in the UK)
Ah, Shetland. Shetland without DI Jimmy Perez and Douglas Henshall seems unthinkable, and yet this seventh season ushered in Henshall’s last as the much-loved detective. His last case revolves around the disappearance of a young man on the islands, and as the search intensifies, it’s evident that the missing person is involved in an eco-plot that went badly wrong. A compelling case, yes, but really this is all about Perez himself, who has some life-changing decisions to make – stay in the force and be ground down to a pulp mentally and physically, or decide to take the path presented to him by nurse Meg. In the end, the hugely emotional finale is just about perfect for the character and fans – of which there are many – alike. It’s very rare that an actor finds a role that fits him or her like a glove, but Henshall and Perez is one of those relationships. Simply, it’s been a pleasure watching him as Perez.
READ MORE: ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEWS OF SHETLAND
7. Black Bird
(Apple+ TV in the UK)
Based on the memoir, In With the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, written by James ‘Jimmy’ Keene and adapted by celebrated crime novelist and screenwriter Dennis Lehane, the six-part series stars British actor Taron Egerton as the eponymous central character. A cocky drug dealer, he’s captured and thrown into jail for 10 years, which brings an abrupt end to his lavish, carefree lifestyle. But then he’s offered a lifeline: transfer to a notorious prison for the criminally insane and befriend Larry Hall, a man the cops on the outside are convinced is a serial killer. Get some sort of confession from him and Keene can walk free. What follows is an intense and brilliant, high-concept story, with Paul Walter Houser as the creepy but vulnerable Hall simply outstanding.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF BLACK BIRD
6. The Responder
(BBC One in the UK)
At the very start of the year, Martin Freeman appeared on our screens, playing against type in this intense five-part series. Freeman plays PC Chris Carson, a policeman working the night shift in Liverpool. As he travels around the city dealing with crimes and characters and incidents, his exhaustion and battle-weariness are painfully evident. But there’s more to Carson than meets the eye – he’s on the take from childhood friend-turned-gangster Carl Sweeney (Ian Hart). When Carson decides to fight back and release himself from Sweeney’s grip, that’s when things really start to go wrong. Brilliantly written by Tony Schumacher, The Responder has the feel of an old-fashioned, warts-and-all social drama – mixed in with modern thriller beats – and Martin Freeman has never been better.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF THE RESPONDER