Review / Big guns lined up for Christmas assault

YOU CAN tell we're getting ready for the big push because the scheduling generals are starting to fire their heavy artillery - television howitzers which will soften up the audience ready for that final Christmas Day assault. You can hear the sound of firing across the channels - a rumble like distant thunder that tells you the poor blighters on BBC 1 are really copping it from a merciless barrage of holly-sprigged trailers and blockbuster movies. They let fly with Batman on Sunday night but this is a war of attrition, not strategy, and ITV isn't short of fire power itself. Four solid hours of Prime Suspect 3 (with 'Eat turkey, Yentob' chalked on the side) was its swift response.

Definitely an early-use weapon, Prime Suspect 3. A guaranteed ratings grabber, yes, but the subject matter - paedophile rings, transvestitism, child abuse and torture - doesn't quite meet the seasonal requirement for artificial glee. Any closer to Christmas and they would have looked like party-poopers. Besides, it was clear by the second hour that this was one of those heavy pieces of machinery which you shouldn't operate after taking Benylin expectorant - or one too many glasses of advocaat.

Part of the pleasure of the first Prime Suspect was the purity of its plot - we know he did it but can we prove it? That single face-off, between calculating killer and determined detective, offered a tow- rope whenever the fascinating procedural details threatened to bog you down. In Prime Suspect 3, on the other hand, it was all you could do to keep up with the cast list, a problem not helped by the fact that half the characters had women's names as well as men's. Even the policemen dragged up at one point trying to infiltrate a transvestite night-club.

Add to that a paedophile conspiracy that involved the upper echelons of the police and a list of suspects as long as a new- style truncheon and the result was a film which left you feeling like a slightly dim Hendon cadet on work-experience. When you weren't catching up you were wasting time on wild fancies. The fact that three very different characters all used the phrase 'I swear before God' at moments of pressure had me constructing an elegant theory about secret evangelical connections, but, as it turned out, a lazy script-editor was in the frame for that one.

Whoever he or she is, they ought to ask for some other offences to be taken into consideration when they go for sentencing - 'You've a very promising career - don't blow it', for example.

The politics are getting a little programmatic too. Having dealt with gender and racial prejudice in the first two films it was the turn of gay policeman to have their plight illuminated last night. Watch out for the disabled seal in Prime Suspect 4.

This is a little churlish. Mirren is wonderful - capable of recharging a line with a little jerk of the head - and La Plante's script displayed, as always, a remarkable peripheral vision - you learnt more than you really wanted to know about the scientific details of death by fire and one nice scene swung on the complicated career- jockeying that the threat of the Sheehy report had started in the force. La Plante also makes sure that you can't just watch all this as a cerebral entertainment - the repercussions of the crimes ripple out beyond the immediate victims, touching the careless and the innocent as well.

But television audiences are fickle creatures and we can afford to be churlish now in a way we couldn't when the first Prime Suspect was transmitted to a grateful nation. If you want a dark take on police politics you can get it from Between the Lines (BBC 1). If you want an unblinking vision of the nastiness of crime, Cracker (ITV) has opened for business too. If you want the mental close combat of the interview room, Homicide (C 4) offers a good transatlantic version.

In a couple of cases here, I suspect La Plante showed the way and she deserves the benefit of the doubt for that, but

doubt didn't enter into it with the first Prime Suspect.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links