Part four, 5-1 – The Killing Times


The final five…

After 12 months of crime drama, it comes down to this – our final five. We hope you’ve enjoyed our countdown and, if you haven’t seen some of the shows included in our top 20 list, it’s given you the inspiration to check them out. If you have seen most of our selections, tell us what you think – we want to know who your favourites are from 2022. Have we got it right, or have we missed out the ones you would’ve selected?

Let us know in the comments below.

Now then, onto the important business…

5. Astrid: Murder In Paris
(All4/Walter Presents in the UK)
On the surface, this French series (a huge hit in its native France) was nothing more than yet another mismatched cop show. But the difference with Astrid: Murder In Paris is the characters themselves, starting with Astrid herself. Astrid Nielsen (Sara Mortensen) works in the criminal records office and lives with autism. She teams with detective Raphaëlle Coste (Lola Dewaere) to help solve one case and then becomes important to Raphaëlle in future cases. There’s a familiar, comforting mystery-of-the-week vibe to this series (first shown in France in 2019), and soon the two women become everything we love about investigating pairs – the yin and the yang, and the juxtaposing of different personalities, traits and idiosyncrasies. Astrid and Raphaëlle may just be the next great detective duo we’ve been waiting for.

READ MORE: OUR SERIES REVIEW OF ASTRID: MURDER IN PARIS

4. Red Light
(All4/Walter Presents in the UK)

Based in Belgium and the Netherlands, this eight-part series was both necessary, heartbreaking and thrilling. It features the lives of three women – night club co-owner, sex worker and pimp Sylvia (Carice Van Houten), married opera singer Esther (Halina Reijn) and policewoman Evi (Maaike Neuville) – who all begin seemingly unconnected. But when Esther’s husband goes missing, their lives become intertwined to spectacular effect. While there’s a strong procedural element thanks to Neuville’s character, the real strength of this series is its examination of entrapment – whether it be from the shackles of class, gender stereotype, marriage or abuse. Arguably the most powerful series of the year, it boasts brilliant, career-best performances from the triumvirate of lead actresses (with a nod to Van Houten in particular) and, crucially for a drama nominally about the sex industry, some balanced and nuanced writing (as well being as mercifully non-gratuitous).

READ MORE: OUR SERIES REVIEW OF RED LIGHT

3. Shining Girls
(Apple+ TV in the UK)

Based on the eponymously titled 2013 novel by Lauren Beukes, Shining Girls provided a surreal, fantastical serial killer mystery with time jumps and everything else thrown into the mix. It stars Elisabeth Moss as Kirby Mazrachi, an archivist at the Chicago Tribune newspaper. After surviving a hideous ordeal and failed attempt on her life four years earlier, she’s convinced that a new killing in the city matches the MO of her own attacker. It’s then the tries to convince a local, disgraced detective to help her look into the case. Then things start to get seriously strange – subtle changes to her reality (her dog becomes a cat, and her apartment switches to another floor of the building, for instance) force her to question the very essence of her reality. Kirby also harbours a secret – when she was a child she met a stranger while playing on the doorstep of her house. This same, ageless man is now flitting between eras to commit murders. Yes, we have a time-travelling serial killer on our hands. Despite all the time-jumping pyrotechnics, this is a drama with real heart – the characters who live and die depending on where they are on the timeline seep into your consciousness, and Kirby’s battle royale with killer Harper Curtis (Jamie Bell) acts as a redemptive arc in order to help her heal her shattered life.

READ MORE: OUR SERIES REVIEW OF SHINING GIRLS

2. Sherwood
(BBC One in the UK)

This outstanding drama created by James Graham is set in the coal-mining communities of Nottinghamshire, where old divisions created by the miners’ strike in the 1980s still bubble under the surface of everyday life. When one former pro-strike miner Gary Jackson (Alun Armstrong) is shot by a crossbow in the middle of his street, it brings to the surface these long-held tensions. Investigating the murder is local detective Ian St Clair (played by the ever-brilliant David Morrissey), his own formative life forged in the flames of the strike in 1984. To help him solve the case he reluctantly accepts the help of Met officer DI Kevin Salisbury (Robert Glenister), who was also stationed in the town at the time of the strikes. Each character has crosses to bear and guilt to extinguish thanks to their role in everything that happened, and Sherwood takes its time, giving each character a chance to tell their complex backstories. Not only is it a compelling murder mystery, but Sherwood is also a study of grief, and how wounds can be reconciled and healed. Add in a fantastic ensemble cast including Lesley Manville, Joanne Froggatt, Perry Fitzpatrick, Adeel Akhtar (who is sublime) and Claire Rusbrook, and Sherwood made for powerful viewing.

READ MORE: ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEWS OF SHERWOOD

1 Top Boy (Series 4)
(Netflix in the UK)

The best British crime drama of its generation? In our opinion, yes, by some distance. The saga – and by this stage, it really is a saga – of Dushane and his criminal empire has taken on such epic proportions that it’s difficult to find anything better on television in any genre at the moment. Ronan Bennett’s Top Boy is vital, thrilling, sprawling and absolutely brutal. In this second Netflix series (and fourth overall if you count the two on Channel 4 before the move to the streaming giant, which we do) Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his Summerhouse crew are all under serious threat. With his supply line from Morocco in danger, he takes his lieutenant Jamie (Michael Ward) with him to iron things out. Little does he know that Jamie has ambitious and dangerous ideas of usurpation. Back home, Jaq (a sensational Jasmine Jobson) is on the warpath after the death of a teenage boy who she recruited as a footsoldier; and Sully (the peerless Kano) has some questions about his own life to answer. Once again it has all the classic stuff that has made great drama work down the centuries: power, greed, loyalty, brutality, family and yes, even love. There is scene after scene of fantastic human drama featuring flawed, nuanced characters, interspersed with the most brutal action and violence (oh hello edge-of-your-seat gangland shootout) and here, in this series, an ending so shocking even some of the British newspapers couldn’t wait to talk about it. It’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal series and, we hope, will be long remembered as such. Bring on (the final) series five in 2023.

Star Ashley Walters:

“We are so proud to be the winners of this year’s best crime drama award. Thank you to The Killing Times and everyone who has watched the show. It’s good to know what we do is appreciated by so many around the world.”

READ MORE: OUR SERIES REVIEW OF TOP BOY

READ MORE: THE KILLING TIMES TOP 20 CRIME DRAMAS OF THE YEAR 2022: PART ONE, 20-16

READ MORE: THE KILLING TIMES TOP 20 CRIME DRAMAS OF THE YEAR 2022: PART TWO: 15-11

READ MORE: THE KILLING TIMES TOP 20 CRIME DRAMAS OF THE YEAR 2022: PART THREE: 10-6

PAST WINNERS:

2021:
1 Craith (Series 3)
2 Mare Of Easttown
3 Paris Police 1900
4 Dopesick
5 Time

2020:
1 I May Destroy You
2 Save Me Too (Series 2)
3 Des
4 Baghdad Central
5 Bordertown (Sorjonen) (Series 3)

2019:
1 Giri/Haji
2 Top Boy (Series 3)
3 Unbelievable
4 Mindhunter (Series 2)
5 Trapped (Series 2)

2018:
1 American Crime Story: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace
2 Unforgotten (Series 3)
3 The Bridge (Series 3)
4 The Deuce (Series 2)
5 Trust

2017:
1 Mindhunter (Series 1)
2 The Deuce (Series 1)
3 Alias Grace
4 Twin Peaks: The Return
5 Big Little Lies

2016:
1 Trapped (Series 1)
2 National Treasure
3 The Witness For The Prosecution
4 The Night Of
5 Happy Valley (Series 2)

2015:
1 The Bridge (Series 3)
2 Fargo (Series 2)
3 River
4 Spiral (Series 5)
5 Witnesses (Series 1)

2014:
1 True Detective (Series 1)
2 The Bridge (Series 2)
3 Fargo (Series 1)
4 Happy Valley (Series 1)
5 Line Of Duty (Series 2)

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