I have listed some of my favourite TV cop dramas according to the amount of logical sense they make. In addition they all have strong casts and very good writing. None are perfect. Sometimes there are procedural flaws or the outcomes are a bit out of sync with the characters, but they follow evidential trails to tell the story. One of them was Unforgotten, a UK ITV show about a cold case unit.
Is Cold Case Getting Tired?
The idea of these units is a case of TV following real policing. They began to spring up all over the world a decade or so ago. Often in the UK they involve re hiring retired detectives and they are very successful. I think it is a concept that would not have been possible without the advancement of DNA technology. Certainly from a viewers point of view DNA often gives us the certainty of guilt just before the final credits roll.
In Unforgotten the main character is DCI Cassie Stewart ( Nicola Walker). She and her sidekick DI Sunny Khan ( Sanjeev Bhaskar, OBE) have run through their cases backed by a brilliant writing and directing team. If you have not seen any of them then watch them now. That said is the idea getting cold itself?
I would say yes, but in fairness because it has not always been done well. Here you have one case per season. The subplots are almost as good as the main one. The format is different too. So I don’t know what you think but Unforgotten has at least another couple of seasons in it. The other one case an hour shows are old hat now.
The Bits That Are Rough
It still suffers a bit from concentrating on two characters while the other members of the office are very much extras. I hope you know what I mean. When the team crowds around in any cop drama and each one seems to have a line in turn. I have a particular favourite officer in Unforgotten. DS Murray ( Jordan Long) he looks and sounds like a copper and I would have liked to have seen more of him. He is that dependable, capable old school type of guy and I think an opportunity was missed there.
The logic does get a bit ropy sometimes. One example is over the course of the 30 years from the murder to the time it is being investigated witnesses have remarkable recall. In addition, there are a couple of logical leaps of deduction that really are more hunches but the faults are few.
My last criticism is that the home life aspect is a bit overplayed. That, however, is more about my taste than anything. I grew up with Dirty Harry and stories that totally lacked any mention of family or background to the cops on screen. You might find the story of DCI Walker’s father getting dementia and her son’s aimless drift interesting.
Season 4, A Very None Spoiler Overview
A man with a violent lifestyle is found in bits. His hands and head are missing. The kicker is he has been in a freezer for all these years. The owner of the freezer has died and it is through him that the evidence trail begins. Five young coppers in the 90s are the culprits but which one and why?
What marks each series, and makes Unforgotten different, is that you are introduced to all your likely suspects immediately. They are seen going about their lives as they are in the modern day. You have no idea how they fit in or who they are in the first episode but they are drawn into the story as the investigation gathers pace.
Gradually their dirty secrets are pulled out like teeth. It is sort of Columbo of the modern age. You don’t get the ‘how’ and ‘who’ as you did with that brilliant 70s series. Here you do get the ‘who’.
Currently season 4 of Unforgotten is on ITV hub and is free. In the past the seasons have been sold to Netflix. Seek them out, they are on the top notch of cop drama. What are your favourites ?