Prime Suspect is probably the best police procedural made-for-television series I have ever watched. It is a gritty, realistic view of the life of a woman making her way in the almost all male world of British police detectives. Prime Suspect follows as Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) moves up the police ranks while contending with the resentment of a lot of the on-job men who think a woman simply doesn’t belong in their professional world.
The Prime Suspect series began in 1991 and ran all the way until 2003. Unfortunately for its devoted fans, there are only seven years worth of seasons, which, since it is a British show, means very few episodes. I strongly suggest watching the series in the correct chronological order. It is not a Cozy British police procedural. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it is “gritty.” It is not just the Prime Suspects who are not model citizens. Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) is relentless about catching the flawed bad guys – but she is a very flawed person herself.
I have enjoyed Helen Mirren’s work since way before her well-deserved current popularity. A lot of you probably remember her excellent work from such movies as The Madness of King George, Calendar Girls, The Queen, and Gosford Park. Let me assure you that Mirren’s performance as Jane Tennison is (as usual) multi-faceted, and a delight to watch. (Prime Suspect’s creator Lynda LaPlante modeled the Jane Tennison character after a true life female DCI.)
I am not going to tell you obvious things like: the show has three-dimensional supporting characters, mysteries that ring true, there’s great attention to detail, the scenes are realistic, the scripts are great, there is phenomenal direction, ETC. Those things go unsaid. (Remember my first sentence in this entry!) Both Mirren and the series have won several Emmy and BAFTA awards, proof of the obvious: I am not alone in liking this show!
I watched this series as it originally aired on PBS (way back when “Mystery!” was the name of the show) and have watched it two times since then. I finally decided to share it with my husband, and we then treated our children to this very superior police procedural. And, I plan to watch it again! I may know “who dunnit” but the Prime Suspect journey is definitely a treat within itself.
PS>>> If you’re offended by adult language and themes, this is not a series for you nor is it appropriate for young children.
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