Last Night's TV - Case Sensitive, ITV1; Bored to Death, Sky Atlantic

Keep watching this detective

The controller of BBC1, Danny Cohen, probably doesn't spend much time waiting for London buses. But he will be familiar with the place of the London bus in a popular metaphor, that you wait ages for one, and then two come along at once. Cohen it was who recently opined that there are far too many male detectives in TV crime drama. Some of us would counter that there is far too much crime drama on TV, a rather different argument, but when a powerful executive has a go at the profusion of male detectives, it's at least a nod in the right direction.

Of course, another way of interpreting Cohen's views would be to say that there are too few female detectives, and that's where the London buses come in. His ITV counterparts must have been sniggering into their skinny lattes at Cohen's assertion, because in the last two evenings they have given us two new female detectives, in the notably contrasting forms of Brenda Blethyn, playing Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, and Olivia Williams, as Detective Sergeant Charlie Zailer.

Let the sniggering stop, though, because I can't think what possessed the ITV1 schedulers to place Sunday night's drama Vera and last night's Case Sensitive in such close proximity. Not only did both focus on murder investigations handled by female detectives, both also began with people arriving home to find, with the obligatory eerie musical accompaniment, dead relatives in the bath. In Vera it was a woman's son, in Case Sensitive a man's wife and daughter. To paraphrase a greater fictional woman than either DCI Stanhope or DS Zailer, Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell, one dead relative in the bath might be considered unfortunate, but three is downright careless. There were numerous other parallels, too, between the two dramas: marital infidelities, mistaken identities, even ornithology. So much for ITV as the home of originality.

Still, my colleague Amol Rajan gave Vera a cautious critical thumbs-up yesterday, and I find myself doing the same for Case Sensitive, based on Sophie Hannah's novel The Point of Rescue (as Vera was based on Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves). The smoothly escalating tension set things up nicely for this evening's denouement, of which we were given a glimpse in the standard "Next Time" teaser. I'm no fan of those teasers, incidentally. By suggesting that we're not yet hooked, and that we must perforce get a hint of what happens next, they somehow manage both to patronise the audience and imply insecurity with the material. Drama producers should trust us to invest in their stories on the basis of what we've just seen; we don't need pointless flashes of what's coming.

Now that's off my chest, back to Case Sensitive. There were just a few too many clever-clever literary references, such as a commanding officer called Proust, and some rather implausible dialogue. "Have you read your Freud?" a creepy criminologist asked Zailor. "I've read his work on Narcissus, yes," she replied. Ah well. Maybe there's room, post-Inspector Morse, for a well-read telly detective.

On the other hand, brainy DS Zailor shouldn't be handling this mystery at all. A detective sergeant might take charge of an investigation into an unexplained death, but as soon as it becomes a suspicious death, as in the case of the corpses in the bath, the gig would be passed to a more senior officer, a detective inspector at least. This I know because of my own informant in the force, a detective chief superintendent, whom I called yesterday to discuss important procedural matters, and who is greatly tickled by the way TV police officers have historically worked in pairs so that one could play good cop and the other bad cop. In real life, he explained, they worked in pairs so that one could have five pints, leaving the other to drive after three.

In fairness, alcohol did play a part in the relationship between DS Zailor and her sidekick DC Waterhouse (Darren Boyd), with repeated embarrassed references to a sexual encounter they'd had the previous Friday evening after she had drunk too much. Her personal life is clearly something of a disaster zone, which of course is another requirement of the TV detective, whatever the gender. The chances of being in a happy long-term relationship, if you're unlucky enough to find yourself solving crimes on television, must be less than one in 50.

The romantic misadventures of journalist- turned-private detective Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) also feature prominently in the sublime Bored to Death. I took three DVDs on a plane journey last week, two of the best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and one Bored to Death, and I can give the latter no higher praise than to report that Jonathan's travails made my shoulders heave, with what for my neighbour's sake I hoped was silent laughter, just as much, if not more than, Larry David's in Curb.

Last night's Bored to Death, "The Case of the Beautiful Blackmailer", was the funniest so far. Jonathan revealed to his editor, George (Ted Danson), that he moonlights as a private eye, and George insisted on helping him to bust a blackmail plot. It was exquisitely done. Danson also pops up in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and as Sam Malone in Cheers he long ago staked his claim to a place in the pantheon of TV comedy greats. But it is in George, the dissolute magazine editor, that he has found the role of a lifetime.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution
    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state