Wild Bill brings us something I’d never have imagined from when I was first regularly watching ITV as a kid in the ’80s – first of all, it starts movie legend Rob Lowe, and secondly (and especially in the light of how they once treated Robocop at the time), this drama includes a fair bit of effing and jeffing.
Lowe is new Chief Constable Bill Hixon, who knows that in the UK, there’s a 10% cut in police numbers (even though in reality, it feels like much more), whilst the bigwigs want a 10% reduction in the crime rate, and so he’s over here, in Lincolnshire, to sort that out, as he has the experience, as well as the nerve to shed jobs. Location-wise, more specifically, he’s in Boston – the UK Boston – which we’re told is Britain’s highest murder capital.
We first see him chasing after some baddies in a car, before losing track of them, and then it goes back to ‘one week earlier’ as we see how things came to that.
Similar to Simon Pegg’s character in Hot Fuzz, he annoys his colleagues with his holier-than-thou attitude, leading to him crossing swords with PC Sean Cobley (Anthony Flanagan, who also played cop Tony in Shameless) being given a speeding ticket for cycling too fast! However, he does have his uses, since while there’s a thief nicking communal satellite dishes, one cop thinks overtime is require to catch them, but Bill has them sussed as to when and where they’ll strike next based on certain major sporting events.
But that’s the easy part… since an accidental discovery leads to something very grisly being found in a freezer.
Along the way, there’s a fair smattering of amusing, sharp writing, such as when journalist Angela Griffin is following Bill about, meeting members of the public for the first time, but when he’s dissuaded by the idea and wants to stop, she says, “I thought this was a meet-and-greet? He hasn’t met OR gret(!)”
And with the grisly discovery, sarky pathologist Vicky Pepperdine observes, “That’s the thing about deep freeze. Fresh as the day it was picked!”
There’s also Bill’s daughter, Kelsey (Aloreia Spencer), who’s too smart for her own good, but not too annoying, whilst also showing the drama dealing with the trauma suffered by the mother of the deceased, Angie (Susan Lynch).
Overall, the plot’s a bit threadbare – and maybe it’ll get a bit more meaty as it goes along, since the head aspect isn’t exactly going to get the full-on CSI treatment – but it has the charm of Rob Lowe to keep it ticking along.
UPDATE: Episode 2 was pretty average, and for a second episode I was hoping for this to have more meat on its bones, since it had already set out its stall in episode 1.
But no, the main story was about Craig Parkinson as amnesiac homeless man who was thought to be from Eastern Europe, but he still had a very Manchester accent, and he may or may not be an armed robber from many moons ago. Was he? You’ll have to watch to find out, but it wasn’t exactly rewarding.
This really must up its game for episode 3, otherwise I’ll have to ‘cop’ for something else to watch…
UPDATE: Episode 3: I thought this would be terrible, but it was a slight improvement even if it wasn’t stellar. I will stick with it based on tonight’s episode.
UPDATE Episode 4: This show has certainly found its level, but this episode started interestingly with a Tony Martin-style situation where a murder may or may not have happened on a farm…, but then fell flat as it went along. In the end, I didn’t care who did what deed.
Shame, as usual, about the bloody continuity announcer waffling over the top of the specifically-chosen song at the end.
UPDATE: Episode 5: This is well filmed, and now just passes an hour, but it’s still plot-lite.
UPDATE: Episode 6: Well, the series went out with lots of bangs (from shotguns) but they were all more like mere whimpers.
Wild Bill begins on Wednesday June 12th at 9pm, and isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but after each episode is broadcast, they’ll be on the ITV Hub.
Episode 1 Score: 7/10
Episode 2 Score: 5/10
Episode 3 Score: 6/10
Episode 4 Score: 4/10
Episode 5 Score: 5/10
Episode 6 Score: 4/10
Series Directors: Charles Martin, Annie Griffin, John Hardwick
Producers: Peter McAleese, Chris Thompson Series Writers: Melissa Bubnic, Tom Farrelly
Creators: Dudi Appleton, David Griffiths, Jim Keeble
Music: Harry Escott
Bill Hixon: Rob Lowe
Sean Cobley: Anthony Flanagan
PC Drakes: Divian Ladwa
Lydia Price: Anjli Mohindra
Muriel Yeardsley: Bronwyn James
Kelsey Hixon: Aloreia Spencer
Angie: Susan Lynch
Oleg: Aleksandar Jovanovic
DS Blair: Steffan Rhodri
Jetsuit Jonjo: Paul Brennen
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.