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Monday, July 22, 2019

Coffee Break Convo - The 10 Best British Procedural/Crime Shows, According to Me.

British Procedurals are so much better than American crime dramas. There, I said it. Fight me.
And before you even try to convince me otherwise with "whatabouts," I will grant you this: Mindhunter is great; True Detective (season 1) was fantastic; Fargo (season 1 and 2 only) was really good. Even the first iteration of CSI was enjoyable for its fact, it might have been my gateway drug into crime procedurals.

But those Brit Procedurals, though. They really got it down. And maybe it's because the Brits have provenance with detective stories. When you think about it, they literally wrote the book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Agatha Christie? Mr. Bean? OK, maybe not that last one.

But it's not just legacy. British procedurals seem to have more dimension, more character backstory. Or maybe, I'm just a sucker for the accent. Or maybe it's the amount of Mini Coopers I see in every single one (proud Mini owner, btw). It doesn't matter; I stand by my opinion.

Practicing my confident, interrogative stare

That being said, here are my Top Ten favorite British Procedurals:

1. Broadchurch - Surprisingly, it took me a couple of times to get into this show; but when I finally started the series...Oh. My. God. Well, I put it in first place, so there you go. I really feel like it is one of the defining shows of the genre. It features complex characters, dark and labyrinthine story lines, and startling plot twists. Oh, and it stars the incomparable Olivia Coleman, two Doctors- David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker, (and guest stars one- David Bradley), as well as a few GOT cast members- David Bradley (Walder Frey), Jacob Anderson (Greyworm), and Susan Brown (Septa Mordane). It pretty much has it all.

2. Sherlock - I did agonize over this whole list, but Sherlock and Broadchurch in particular. I swapped these two several times for 1st and 2nd place. I ultimately placed Sherlock at 2 mainly because there are fewer episodes to binge. Also, Sherlock does not need my help in promotion. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch aka Benedryl Colorblock, Blindside Camouflage, Bumbershoot Chamomile (sorry, I've always wanted to participate in that meme). With great writing and Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman at the helm, the series really is one of the best out there.

3. Marcella - This series is fucking dark. Every episode should come with a trigger warning. It is hard to watch sometimes but made easier by the fact that the majority of actors in the series are very attractive and impeccably dressed in that oh-so-British way. The show is so good in that way that leaves you a bit broken after watching.

4. Luther - Two words: Idris Elba.

5. The Bletchley Circle - This PBS joint is exemplary of what I love so much about British procedurals: strong female leads. It takes place in post-WWII England. Four former Bletchley Park codebreakers are enlisted to solve a series of murders. It's so, so good.

6. Shetland - If for nothing else, watch this for the lovely Scottish accents. Also, watch with subtitles enabled. Also, watch for the beautiful landscapes. Mainly, though, watch for the well-written character relationships and the intriguing and exceptional crime-solving. And I should mention that when I say British procedurals, I mean Great Britain, of which Scotland is part of.

7. Happy Valley - This one is also a bit dark, but also oddly funny and sad at the same time. It stars Sarah Lancashire (one of my favorite British actors) and brilliantly utilizes her as the flawed but noble crime solver. Highly recommend.

8. The Fall - I'll be honest, it does take a second to reconcile Gillian Anderson's accent if you are used to her portrayal of Scully on X-files. Anderson shifts between British and American Midwest accents in real life and was born in the UK, so I suppose it's more justified than Madonna's weird accent. Anyway, once you get over the accent, the series is fantastic. This one should also have a bunch of trigger warnings, but done in that masterful way that keeps you watching even though it's tough.

9. Safe - Michael C. Hall headlines this one. And he is an American using a fake accent, so you will have to adjust to that as well, especially if you were a Dexter fan. But it is very easy to get over as the plot is both unexpected and emotionally engaging. Something about it reminds me of Gone Girl, but luckily sans any Affleck family member.

10. Paranoid - Strong female lead? Check. Appealing "Will they, won't they" chemistry? Check. Flawless British swearing? Bloody, fucking check. A GOT and Luther cast member? Check. (Indira Varma). Highly watchable and binge-able series? Check.

Footnote: I really wanted to include Killing Eve in the top ten, however, after exhaustive research (read: one google search) I landed on the decision that while it is an explosive series with plenty of "what the fuck?" moments, I would classify Killing Eve as a spy thriller. Also, that would bring my list to eleven... and Top Eleven doesn't roll off the tongue (or roll of the SEOs) the way Top Ten does.

Honorable mentions (in no particular order):
Ripper Street
Foyle's War
Death in Paradise

Have yet to watch:
Collateral (just started this one, though), Inspector Lewis, Midsomer Murders, Father Brown, Waking the Dead, Jack Taylor, The Five, Whitechapel, Prime Suspect, The Body Farm, Endeavor, Silent Witness, Grantchester, The Bodyguard, Line of Duty, and Life on Mars.

Most of the above unwatched-shows are not available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, so I would have to subscribe to BritBox to watch them. Can I justify one more streaming service? Maybe I could call it a tax write off? Of course, I'd actually have to make money off this blog to call anything a tax write off. Ha (sob) Ha.

What did I miss? Please only comment with British Procedurals (meaning a crime or detective show from the UK). It will not be helpful to suggest a non-crime show like Downton Abbey or a non-British crime show like Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (it's Australian).

Or, what other lists of shows would you like to see? Drop a comment below!


RiannaRave said...

I need to watch so many of these! I love Sherlock and The Fall so much, but otherwise I’ve not seen many of these!

Luna said...

Feeling pleased with myself, 1,2,3,5,9, plus Killing Eve,and the first 2 Shetlands, but now I'm going to go find Happy Valley, thanks!

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