Line of Duty Series 1 DVD Review
What’s it about? Line Of Duty is a gritty BBC drama in the same vein as Good Cop and Silent Witness, shows that dare to tackle difficult subject matter and do not shy away from a head on collision with potentially offensive material. The important thing with all these shows is maintaining a high quality of script and acting while handling the storylines in an appropriate manner. This first series certainly manages to tread that line carefully while taking the audience on a thoroughly entertaining ride over its 5 episodes.
Line Of Duty deals with a counter-terrorism unit led by DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), a confident and determined man who is throw into a situation of disarray and confusion when his team accidentally kills an unarmed man. Arnott then transfers to another area – the anti-corruption unit AC12 – and we follow how he adapts to a new team and challenges along the way. Investigating DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James) and his suspiciously high performances levels over at squad TO20, Arnott is thrown straight into the heart of police corruption, greed and mistrust. His initial desire to remain straight-laced and by-the-book is tested with every move AC12 makes, and Line Of Duty shows the real struggle of sticking by your beliefs when surrounded by those willing to take shortcuts and use questionable tactics.
AC12’s leader, Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), is a weary Northern Ireland veteran clearly jaded by his previous experiences and always suspicious of those around him. He is the polar opposite of Arnott, and their differing strategies make an intriguing dynamic, especially as they’re meant to be on the same side. Hastings not only has to deal with the investigation on Gates, but is also under pressure to work on the gender balance in AC12 and so brings in Detective Constable Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), adding another area of hostility and agitation.
Verdict: Compston offers a sympathetic and relatable performance that audiences will support as they desperately hope he doesn’t get dragged down by those around him. Lennie James is as good here as he has ever been, stealing every scene he’s in, just as he’s done in numerous other shows such as Jericho, The Walking Dead, and current US drama Low Winter Sun. James always offers a very clever performance, especially when it comes to ambiguous characters such as Gates in Line Of Duty – you really feel he could flip to either side at any time.
The cast all deliver their individual performances expertly to make Line Of Duty a gripping and dramatic series that leaves you wanting more – fortunately, there’s a second series lined up for the second half of 2013. Familiar faces such as Neil Morrissey, Gina McKee and Darren Morfitt round out the cast and certainly add a gravitas and legitimacy to the series. Morrissey especially offers something completely different to what most people have seen him in, and does a stellar job in a gritty and serious role. Line Of Duty is by far his best work in years.
Extras: In this 2-disc set, we get a look Behind The Scenes, Actor Filmographies and a Picture Gallery. While not a huge offering, it’s just enough to give you an idea of the work that went into the series.
Final Words: At a time when there are so many cop dramas produced all over the world, Line Of Duty offers a fantastic look at morality and deception which pulls from real life and never feels over the top. Lennie James continues his run of exceptional performances, raising the game of everyone around him. There’s a depth to Line Of Duty that many other shows simply do not offer, and a darkness that evokes shows like The Wire and The Shield in their no-nonsense portrayal of lives on the line.
It’s clear those involved in the show have researched particular situations and the people behind them to try and present as real a portrayal as possible in a fictional setting. It’s these small details that give Line Of Duty a realism so important to the overall feel of the show. While you know it’s not a documentary, this attention to detail makes you believe the events on screen are possible in the real world, which makes the stakes even higher. This is a show you simply cannot afford to take your eyes off.
Line Of Duty Series 1 is currently available on DVD exclusively from Acorn Media and will be available on general DVD release on 3 February 2014.