Their very mention triggers a feeling of drowning in depression? They?re cheap, tacky, polyester-suited, out dated Bognor Regis seafront entertainers? They are people who should never appear on television unless they are being pumped full of dry rice then offered a glass of water? Yes. Those things are all true.
Now, Law & Order: UK. The British (read low budget) version of the US hit drama on ITV1.
Charlie Brooker once said that appearing on BBC4 is like appearing behind a shed. By that same token, appearing on ITV must be like appearing from within a skip, viewed only by Wayne and Waynetta Slob, occasionally being interrupted by Mephistopheles who wants to help consolidate your loans into one forever insurmountable, endless, crippling loan.
L&O: UK (pronounced ‘low-uk’) stars Ben Daniels from Cutting It and Freema Agyeman who ably played Doctor Who?s assistant. In L&O: UK she plays an assistant to Ben Daniels? CPS barrister. Every so often she trundles off to dig out a piece of evidence which was previously impossible to retrieve. She does this several times during the programme, suspiciously so. She must be a damn fine assistant, that's all we can say.
Ben Daniels plays senior CPS barrister James Steel, a cool, shiny, hard man who melts at 1600?C. His character is overly compassionate for someone who would in all realism be dealing with many cases at any one time. In fact, the interest he shows for the victims which he will no doubt become noted for is very uncharacteristic for someone who would have become anaesthetised to all of the harrowing stories which amass in his to-do pile.
LO-UK also stars everyone's favourite 1950?s window cleaner, Bradley Walsh. Bradley plays one half of a slightly hapless pair of detectives from the law enforcement group, the Metropolitan Police. The nice thing about DS Ronnie Brooks (Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) is that there is always time for a joke. Don't let the fact that you're investigating the circumstances around a dead baby being found in a bag get in the way of a good chuckle, is basically the message they want to convey.
Our favourite Walsh quote in reference to his children was ?Other days, I'd have happily shook ?em till they rattled.? We love casual references to child abuse here. We also detected a strange message that it is OK to leave a nine-month-old baby on its own. Kids grow up faster these days after all.
The huge lag between a police investigation and it finally getting to court are skipped without a mention in LO-UK, as is any sort of realistic time scale whatsoever – we can only assume this is an interpretation of US-style editing. Not a particularly good interpretation.
While it sustains a certain charm – which is most likely borrowed from the Beeb?s Judge John Deed – Law & Order: UK plays out more like a lighthearted version of The Bill than gripping crime/legal thriller. Not a particularly good interpretation.