Critical Condition: The Murder Detectives

The Murder Detectives (Prime, 8.35 Fridays)

The Murder Detectives puts fictional crime procedurals in the shade, as this British serialised detective storytelling, starting from the 111 call, tracks the last moments of 19-year-old stab victim Nicholas Robinson … Like any good thriller, this real-life storyline comes with set-backs and twists. You feel the sheer exhaustion of the team, as it struggles to find the required extra push to pursue a killer on the run … The police pick up where the victim’s heart beat left off, and find out why.” — The Dominion Post.

“’Most people lead good lives – until the day comes when they make the wrong call.’ So began The Murder Detectives, an eye-opening insight into the fragility of life, the realities of police work and the messy randomness of crime. Filmed over 18 months, this three-parter followed the investigation into the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Nicholas Robinson in Bristol in March 2014, tracing the progress of the case from seemingly motiveless attack to trial verdict … This was boldly conceived, cleverly made programming. A simple idea, superbly executed.” — The Telegraph.

“Films of Record, the company that made [The Murder Detectives], has always been interested in process, and however filmic this all looks, it is process we are witnessing. The other reason the programme keeps its virtue is the cops, who have not been ‘cast’ for their potential as reality stars. The notable traits of DCI Andy Bevan and the community copper Ifor Williams are instead humanity and work ethic. We discover these qualities, so rare in television drama, to be quite compelling.” — The Times.

“It’s an observational documentary shot over 18 months, in the style of a drama and the result lingers in the mind longer than fiction … The setting was a bleached, gritty-looking Bristol, officers moved in slow motion, and a tension-building score helped to give proceedings an unreal feel … For viewers like me not familiar with police investigations, there were some surprises, like the sheer number of dishevelled, knackered officers working on the job 24/7.” — The Independent.

“There are no awkward police partnerships, troubled backstories, memorable cars or signature clothing, sexy pathologists working through the night in steely cold light or laconic Scandinavians acting alone and mainly on whims. On the killer’s side, there is no artistry or humour, no imaginative or macabre staging of crime scenes. There’s nothing glamorous about any of this.” — The Guardian.

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