Strike: Troubled Blood Review – This drama should be cherished. It’s the BBC at its best

Blow: Restless blood Really is an exceptionally fine crime drama that brings an exceptional array of talent together to create something that is actually greater than the sum of its very impressive parts. This is something rare and valuable. And indeed seen it, and I wholeheartedly recommend this four-part set as the highlight of your celebratory viewing (along with the final stages of the World Cup, of course). It starts off brilliantly, but just keeps getting better and some surprising and compelling star performances are to follow.

It’s Tom Edge’s latest adaptation of the Strike detective works by JK Rowling (under her alias Robert Galbraith, and she’s also executive producer), and quite possibly the best. Tom Burke is once again in the title role of Cormoran Strike, the gruff but clever private investigator. Strike is an ex-soldier with a streak of PTSD, a minor drinking problem, and a troubled childhood. And his affection and respect for his resourceful business partner, Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger), always threatens or promises to evolve into something akin to love. “Similar,” that is, because Strike is the kind of guy who never seems ready for love, let alone dressed for it. He makes Columbo look smart. Instead, Strike is constantly attuned to the depraved aspects of human nature he witnessed in War and Peace. He looks and sounds smug if not depressed, but that’s always appropriate for a TV detective; otherwise they would all be airy guys like Michael McIntyre or Alan Titchmarsh, and that would never be enough. The nightmare of Strike’s backstory is that his stepmother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. So, yes, it’s all slightly miserable, but you can almost feel Burke reveling in it. Someone should buy him a pint. Or maybe not.

In the new series opener, Strike, a celebrated detective, is approached by a woman as he emerges refreshed from a session at the pub. Almost hopelessly, a tortured Anna (Sophie Ward) begs Strike to save her mother, Dr. Margot Bamborough (played by Abigail Lawrie in the flashbacks) in 1974. Strike takes the very cold case and begins gathering evidence. Old case files are compiled, including notes from the original detective who went insane during the investigation. Older surviving Witnesses, work colleagues and relatives are being tracked down, and… there really isn’t much to do. Or rather, too many possible suspects who are either dead, senile, missing, uncooperative, or downright dangerous, including a serial killer at the time. From archival news reports, home videos, and the flashback reconstructions, we learn that Margot was a kindly, conscientious professional, a feminist of her time, but was harassed by predatory or unreliable men, including in her unhappy marriage, various affairs, and the brutal, drug addict guys hanging around her office. Well, it was the 1970s.

As with all television crime series, at least some of the filming must take place in a stunningly beautiful location, in this case Cornwall, although for the most part the action is immersed in the grim and grimy setting of 1970s London, creating a stark contrast. Director Sue Tully (Michelle Fowler in EastEnders Half a Life Ago) makes the most of the sets and we’re also treated to the usual BBC attention to historical detail, right through to the haunting opening title sequences. The only slightly puzzling note is why Robin is driving around in a broken down 60 year old Land Rover. Eccentric vintage cars are often a staple of the genre, but that’s just bizarre. Anyway, this is an excellent Sunday night sighting and has a highly crafted, sinister, intriguing, and at times satanic quality that should inspire you.

Strike: Murky Blood, In other words, the BBC is at its best and today, as it was in the 1970s, the company is one of the few things in this bewildered nation that actually works and is world class. God only knows why this government wants to destroy it indiscriminately. A real crime thriller. Strike: Troubled Blood Review – This drama should be cherished. It’s the BBC at its best


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