Line Of Duty Series 3 begins with Operation Damson, and a dawn raid on a man who is expected to be armed and extremely dangerous, possibly on his way to carry out a gangland execution.
The suspect took off in a fast car, was cornered by the police armed-response van but then escaped on foot, in pursuit by Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays). After being cornered and forced to toss his weapon and kneel down on the ground, with only Waldron present, was there a reason why the cop executed the suspect and then rearranged his body and pretended his gun only ended up a fair distance away because of a muscle spasm when shot? He clearly has the cheek of a fat man’s arse as he starts blaming his team for their lack of co-operation with his nefarious plan when they won’t play ball, initially.
It’s a sumptuous dish of police corruption, but will it be best served cold for the team leader?
Waldron comes across as a bully, especially when his initially AC12 investigation interview leads to the question of why his staff often put in transfer requests away from him. He countered that he sets high standards and that those individuals just can’t cut the mustard. As it continued, he fought his corner hard while the panel of Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Cottan (Craig Parkinson) didn’t believe a word of it. However, it led to an incredible 15 minutes of near-interrogation which Daniel Mays – on fire, here – recently expressed on Sunday Brunch how he was so pleased that when they filmed it, they just let the cameras run and included almost everything in the final cut rather than selectively edit. Also, he said how difficult it was to learn and reel off the list of police procedures, to make them sound like second nature, but he went for it and, as we can see, he got it on-point. The clip was also shown on Sunday Brunch and, when asked by Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer if he could do it for them right then also, he admitted no as it’s something you learn for the day but then it leaves your short-term memory quickly. 🙂
To determine whether or not he’s on the level, the plan was for firearms-trained Kate (Vicky McClure) to go in undercover and see if she could get to the root cause of what was going on. What would see encounter, other than extreme frostiness from his character?
There was also a bit of a daft scene as Steve tagged Danny back to his apartment block for one of those cop show ‘off the record’ conversations that, in reality would result in him being shown the door, and he told the new guy: “We both know – the easiest way to killing someone… be a police officer”, but you can allow a drama like this the occasional daft moment since there’s so much wonder to witness.
Before I watched this, I saw Daniel Mays was given top billing in this series. I know he’s the main one who’ll be questioned, but I wondered how the rest of the cast feel about being given second place. Then again, each series is centred around one particular character and what happens next is anyone’s guess.
As I was gripped by this episode, I can see that Danny Waldron is a deep well waiting to be tapped. On the basis of this opener, Jed Mecurio hasn’t just pulled another rabbit out of the hat – he’s pulled out the whole herd! And I’m hugely looking forward to seeing the potential in the next five episodes.
Line of Duty is an exceptional series. It’s drama gold. But you do have to wonder why the police keep hiring wrong ‘uns like Waldron, DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James) in series 1 and Inspector Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) in series 2. I remember when Keeley Hawes was interviewed on This Morning as series 2 began. She said she read the scripts for the first five episodes and then asked writer Jed Mecurio, “So am I the good guy or the bad guy?” He replied: “I haven’t decided yet” 🙂
Hence, he will no doubt keep us on our toes until the final act. It’s so good that this is allowed to flourish whereas Mecurio’s Bodies was cancelled, even after it had won a number of TV awards!
Line Of Duty Series 3 is available to pre-order on DVD, as well as in a Series 1-3 DVD boxset, and the drama continues next Thursday on BBC2 at 9pm. If you missed it, you can watch the first episode on BBC iPlayer, up until April 23rd, and click on the DVD packshot for the full-size version.
Episode 1 Score: 10/10
Director: Michael Keillor
Producer: Peter Norris
Creator/writer: Jed Mercurio
Danny Waldron: Daniel Mays
Rod: Will Mellor
Reynolds: Shaun Parkes
Tracey McAndrew: Lisa Palfrey
Hari: Arsher Ali
Jackie: Leanne Best
Ronan: Shane Gately
Hastings: Adrian Dunbar
Steve Arnott: Martin Compston
Cottan: Craig Parkinson
Marley: Natasha Gordon
DC Kate Fleming: Vicky McClure
Sam: Aiysha Hart
Rachel: Rebecca O’Mara
Gill: Polly Walker
Laila: Kiran Landa
Minister: Richard Croxford
Linus: Louis Rolston
Resident: James Murphy
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.