Prime Suspect 1973. It’s 1973, almost dinnertime… I’m ‘avin ‘oops!
No, it’s not Gene Hunt in Life On Mars, but it’s the same year for this Prime Suspect prequel and set in Hackney, daan saath, where wet-behind-the-ears cop Jane Tennison (Stefanie Martini) is starting out. Given the era, it’s a time when police brutality was allowed and, in referring to the way men treat her, she tells her boss, DI Len Bradfield (Sam Reid), she applied because “I thought the police could do with more posh sorts, sir(!)”, so we see early on that she gives as good as she gets.
We also see her gusto as an idealistic young woman in early scene when she just jumps off a bus and heads after a man robbing an old lady, yet doesn’t mention this in work, so they just see a less-than-idealistic young woman who’s late, and they only care whether or not she can make the tea and fetch the right type of biscuits.
We learn there’s more to the attempted theft than meets the eye, but I won’t give spoilers here. The bigger crime in this episode is the murder of teenage girl Julie-Ann Collins (Arabella Larssen), her body found slumped in an underground car park, making this Jane’s first case.
Prime Suspect 1973 has a great period feel with tunes of the day beginning with Joe Cocker’s cover version of Blind Faith’s Can’t Find My Way Home, and continuing with a few more including, during a chase sequence, Pink Floyd’s Time.
Maybe it’s a little cliched at times, with an angry desk sergeant and the echoes of the aforementioned BBC show, plus the snarling of criminals in jail like Alun Armstrong as Clifford Bentley telling another lag, “I’m reconsidering our arrangement”, and so on, but while it’s far from original, it’s very enjoyable, it includes some light humour at times, and it might just fill the gap left by Life On Mars which Ashes To Ashes didn’t quite manage to fill.
The first episode also ends on a cliffhanger, so we see the story continues over more than one episode in this six-part series, whereas each original Prime Suspect case was one programme, but those lasted around two hours apiece.
The preview I saw was presented in an odd 2.00:1 widescreen ratio, so I don’t know if that’s always been the case or if it’s just for this series.
Additional: I’ve since seen episode 2 and it’s just as engaging as the first.
Episode 1 Score: 7.5/10
Director: David Caffrey
Producer: Rhonda Smith
Writers: Lynda La Plante and Glen Laker
Music: Carly Paradis
Jane Tennison: Stefanie Martini
DI Len Bradfield: Sam Reid
DS Spencer Gibbs: Blake Harrison
Clifford Bentley: Alun Armstrong
WPC Kath Morgan: Jessica Gunning
DC Edwards: Joshua Hill
DS Paul Lawrence: Jordan Long
DC Hudson: Tommy McDonnell
Eddie Phillips: Jacob James
Sergeant Harris: Andrew Brooke
Julie-Ann Collins: Arabella Larssen
Danny Mitcham: Nick Nevern
Renee Bentley: Ruth Sheen
John Bentley: Lex Shrapnel
Silas Manatos: Anthony Skordi
David Bentley: Jay Taylor
Pam Tennison: Rosie Day
Dr. Martin: Ian Beattie
Dwayne Clarke: Thomas Coombes
Terrence O’Duncie: Aaron Pierre
George Collins: Geoffrey Streatfeild
Mary Collins: Nancy Carroll
Billy Myers: Sam Adewunmi
Teresa O’Duncie: Franc Ashman
Joyce Tennison: Geraldine Somerville
DC Ashton: Daniel Ezra
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.