Entertainment

DI Ray, Review: Low key in tone and atmosphere, Jed Mercurio’s latest cop drama deserves to be a hit

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Forgive me for a bit of self-indulgence, but something I’ve been waiting for my whole life – maybe without realizing it – is here: a smart, cheeky, tough-guy TV detective from… Leicester. Yes that’s right. Not the streets of San Francisco, the rural idyll of Midsomer, or the brooding Scandinoir, but the second largest city in the East Midlands. In fact like that. A world first, albeit actually on duty in a slightly fictionalized version of…Birmingham. And it doesn’t get any more glamorous.

Detective Inspector Rachita Ray (Parminder Nagra, “also” from Leicester) is a gifted operations officer who finally earns a transfer to her dream job in Homicide after winning an award for bravery. The chief inspector proudly tells her that despite being neglected for so long, she is “exactly what we need right now”. What turns out to be an assignment on the team sensitively named “Culturally Specific Homicide” (CSH). Ironically, this turns out to be a hostile environment for her, as even someone from the “East Mids” (no one says that in the Midlands) sees her as some sort of visitor from a more advanced civilization. She has a uniformed subordinate, also of South Asian background, PS Tony Khattri (Maanuv Thiara), but all he does are derogatory, culturally charged remarks about her “agenda”.

When he boasts that he is fluent in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, she replies that she has a GCSE in Spanish. She always speaks English, even as suspects, witnesses and indeed her mate hop on and off. Her white peers commit all the usual unconscious faux pas – mistaking her for another pc who is a person of color and asking “where are you Yes, really von” and arguably symbolizing them into the “culture-specific” team, as if a slaughtered white victim was too good for them. As Ray explains to her secret boyfriend, also a cop, (Jamie Bamber), she feels like she was just “drawn in” to check a box.

But did she? Her CSH group is surprisingly undiverse and led by a decidedly unlikable character, DCI Henderson (who openly acts as if she wouldn’t mind too much if her own children were slaughtered in a gang shootout. Or indeed, if DI Ray fate would suffer something similar). The tension between the two is exquisite and the hatred runs so deep that there is no reason for racial tension. They just despise themselves for who they are. What is progress, I suppose.

All DCI Henderson wants is for a bunch of innocent Asian lads to be convincingly blamed for what appears to be the routine murder of another Asian—and that just lends a slightly unfriendly glow to the matter. A young Muslim man dating a Hindu girl has been stabbed to death, and “the Kapoor brothers” (Ryan McKen and Manpreet Bachu) appear to be the obvious culprits in a typical honor killing bolstered by a business rivalry. Their alibi that they were in a temple at the time of the crime and then at a gas station does not work. Henderson doesn’t want to waste any more time with this, even though the friend to be interviewed has disappeared. It’s DI Ray who fills in the holes in the alibis with keen observation and impeccable logic (gas station surveillance has the wrong timestamps). She also manages to reach the scared girl. Nagra, petite and vulnerable, makes us want DI Ray to succeed and we cheer her on. She is a police officer. She’s not that in love with being, but wants to be: it’s a perfect balance.

As this is a Jed Mercurio production and written by Maya Sondhi, DI beam has many twists and turns, and the subplot of her relationship with a white officer fits well with the search for the killer.

There is a moderate level of overt racist abuse, but much more of the subtle, casual brand of “microaggression” that many are only now realizing is wrong, whether intentional or not, and has deeply troubled people of color for decades . Restrained in tone and atmosphere, DI beam, Cop and Show, that is, deserves to be a hit. Mercurio ticks another box.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/di-ray-review-itv-b2069826.html DI Ray, Review: Low key in tone and atmosphere, Jed Mercurio’s latest cop drama deserves to be a hit

JOE HERNANDEZ

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