by Kathleen Costa
BritBox offers a variety of programming options for a reasonable monthly or annual fee. There are movies, documentaries, and television comedies and dramas enough to binge or just for a quiet respite. These days afternoons have been perfect for binging all-time favorite comedies like Are You Being Served?, Are You Being Served? Again, and The Vicar of Dibley, then exploring some engaging dramas like Scott & Bailey, DSI Bancroft, and Casualty 1900s London Hospital. This past month two surprises popped up with new police dramedies McDonald & Dobbs and Wild Bill. Check out the trial offer.
MacDonald & Dobbs (2020)
It’s Bath, England, and circumstances have partnered two very unlikely coppers: Detective Sergeant Dobbs who hasn’t been in the field for eleven years and Detective Chief Inspector Lauren MacDonald with her inner city confidence. DS Dobbs (Jason Watkins) is slow, methodical, and with an oddball manner best suited for a desk assignment. In opposition DCI McDonald (Tala Gouvei) is outgoing and confident having honed her expertise in London with an impressive resumé with knowledge of organized crime, weapons, and police procedures. Although together they are finding their way, the partnership is not without its misunderstandings, of course mostly because Dobbs flubs protocol, disappears on his own, and is often too insecure to share his theories openly. The Chief Superintendent John Houseman (James Murray) is more concerned with optics, connections, and quick resolutions which often are proven incorrect. To streamline the department he hopes to push Dobbs into early retirement, he enlists, or coerces, MacDonald to forcibly broach the subject with Dobbs, but she finds the Chief Super more exasperating then encouraging. Of course in the middle of all this is DC Laura Simpson (Pearl Chanda) and DC Darren Craig (Jack Riddiford) just trying to stay focused on the case at hand.
Ep. 1 — The Fall of the House of Crocket Wealthy businessman Maxwell Crocket and his very pregnant, younger wife come home to discover a dead man on the stairs. Burglary? Murder! The quirky DS Dobbs determines the intended victim really is Max. Crockett plans to retire, but only one of his three daughters will inheritance his fortune. Look like three suspects way too close to home. ICYMI: Do you recognize Max? Robert Lindsey had his own detective show Jericho (four telemovies 2005). Fun!
Ep. 2 — A Wilderness of Mirrors The Mara Retreat is a very expensive private hospital and recovering alcoholic Jane Crawford, a retired middle-aged college teacher, goes off the wagon and hangs herself…not so fast. Dobbs proves, through a soggy reenactment, it can’t be suicide. Everyone in the diversion group therapy points fingers at someone in the group. “What’s the 13th step?” ICYMI: Did you see Alison? That’s Caroline Catz from Doc Martin. Also I love “boules” and wish I had a yard to make a court.
MacDonald & Dobbs Earns 5/5 Detective Notebooks…Brilliant!
I greatly enjoy a little humor in my detective shows, and Jason Watkins, perfectly cast, is the right amount of quirky cop. His lonely existence makes him a sad figure, but despite his miscues, he sees the patterns, the inconsistencies, and the true nature of the murders. This first season only had two 90-minute telemovies, but it has been confirmed a second season of three murder mysteries! Yeah!
Wild Bill (2019)
Bill Hixon (Rob Lowe) is credited as America’s top metropolitan police chief, three years running, having managed successful police departments in San Diego, Miami, and Denver, but he needs a comeback after an unfortunate police brutality punch…hence ”Wild” Bill tag. He is highly qualified with a criminology degree from UCLA, masters from Yale, and a doctorate in statistical mapping at MIT, but no need to use the “Doctor” title, he says “Nobody likes a “smart @##.” But, why Bill, and why East Lincs? He’s good at his job, and they need him! With a high immigrant population, including their new Chief Constable, problems undoubtedly equate to crime. But can you do policing with numbers? Everyone is skeptical knowing that many officers and staff are about to lose their jobs.
Ep. 1 “Welcome to Boston” Boston, East Lincolnshire, England, welcomes the new Chief Constable with a bit of fun ribbing with a poorly done John Wayne imitation; Bill is not amused. However many are not amused as they see his arrival as a threat to job security and his philosophy a joke. But points for Hixon when his number crunching bagged a satellite thief, and accidentally opens a twelve-year cold case when a severed head is found of Melissa Stainsfeld. A fan is DC Muriel Yeardsley (Bronwyn James) whose weight she says is not fat, “Sir, it’s prime Lincolnshire pork.” Conflicts in the station get heated, the infamous “punch” video is leaked, so he…quits.
Ep. 2 “Piano Man” Hixon “unquits” and cracks the whip by prominently displaying the red files, highly important cases, on which he expects the department to focus. A homeless man takes up playing a discarded piano on the street, but lashes out at three punks and ends up in jail. DNA points to his being “The Boston Bandit,” but he has no memory. His attempted suicide is thwarted by Hixon, so the man says, “Well, you saved me, I thought you’d help figure out who I am.” Bill has become involved with the Right Honourable Judge Mary Harborough, QC (Rachael Stirling, daughter of Diana Rigg) which adds romance, security, and a way to navigate the culture.
Ep. 3 “Dead Men Don’t Return Library Books” Pensioners are being targeted, and DNA found at the scene points to a seasoned burglar, fifteen years long gone, has returned. The DNA also connects to a young librarian looking for her father. Yeardsley makes a fateful decision, and private school politics go against Hixon’s daughter Kelsey (Aloreia Spencer).
Ep. 4 “Bad Blood in the Soil” Kelsey is starting a new school, and Hixon is notified of a body of a thief found in, appropriately dubbed, “Dead Man’s Woods.” Ironically a local farmeress is uncooperative due to the eight burglaries in two years and limited police interest or success. She goes public in the press causing further rifts with local reporter Lisa Cranston (Angela Griffin; Inspector Lewis). Kelsey makes friends her first day…the son of the coworker who totally dislikes Bill, his methods, his arrival, his motives, and doesn’t keep her feelings to herself.
Ep. 5 “You’re Stupid Enough to Say That to a Copper?” Immigration is a hot topic. Skeltoft Farm Camp advertises as a well-documented and well-cared for “migrant” labor farm hiring mostly Eastern European workers. However, Darren Bailey, the owner, has gone missing; well not missing…dead. His wife, of course, is top of the list.
Ep. 6 “Nothing Behind the Curtain” “I looked behind the curtain, and there’s no wizard.” Bill was charged to cut budget, cut jobs, and cut the crime rate, but when he has a creative way to save money and maintain staff levels, he’s met with questionable politics. Five men are murdered gangland style leading to a previous case and a man no one can find: hit man Frank McGill. Catching him would be great, but too many official and unofficial obstacles. DC Muriel Yeardsley is at a serious crossroads, and Bill’s relationship with Lady Mary includes Kelsey.
Wild Bill Earns 5/5 One Hit Wonders…Compelling Entertainment!
Why? Why again…a show that is clever with excellent acting and intriguing interpersonal connections gets the ax after one season? I know it’s Rob Lowe as the bruised, but exceptional cop, but he was very good, fitting the profile of a widower with a teenaged daughter who herself has issues. And, the supporting cast is brilliant, diverse, and all with delicious dialects of which I can’t get enough. Each episode has a conclusion, murderer gets karma, and relationship are clearly defined, but there are a couple of loose ends. Yeardsley’s crosswords is hinted, but not unresolved. Does she go to the right or to the wrong? Assistant Chief Constable Lydia Price‘s animosity toward Bill is still acrimonious. The Crime Boss is still free to be a criminal. Possible police corruption remains behind the “curtain.” But, as I said to someone who didn’t want to get hooked on a short run, “It’s better to have [watched,] then never to have [watched] before.” It’s worth watching!
Interesting cultural note [Insert giggle]:
When Bill mentions, “It’s a pain in my @##.”
The Chief remarks, “It’s “ar##” with an “r.” If you’re going to be in this country, learn the bloody language!”
Free Trial Offer on BritBox
Check out the website for any free trial offers…just imagine what you can watch in a week. You’ll be hooked! The monthly fee is very reasonable to continue as a member.
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