The Detail
Canadian TV

Review: The Detail 1×1 (Canada: CTV; UK: Channel 5)

In Canada: Sundays, 9pm ET, CTV
In the UK: Acquired by Channel 5

Sometimes a name just leaps out at you. Sometimes a name leaps out at you as being particularly British.

The Detail at first looks like a completely ordinary – some might even say paralysingly ordinary – female police procedural. I shouldn’t need to specify ‘female’ since

  1. There should be plenty of women in police procedurals anyway
  2. There shouldn’t be a difference between procedurals that feature mainly men and those that feature mainly women.

Yet as we know from the likes of Women’s Murder Club and Rizzoli & Isles, female police procedurals are usually 50% about a desperately uninteresting and mundane crime and about 50% about their police’s great friendships and relationships with their usually cheating boyfriends and/or alcohol. They also don’t really follow police procedure at all – although that’s true of a lot of police procedurals, to be fair.

The Detail

The Devil

Here, Shenae Grimes-Beech (Degrassi High) stars as ‘street smart’ Detective Jacqueline ‘Jack’ Cooper, who has keen investigative skills, but a messy personal life. That means she drinks a lot and has accidentally been dating a married man (Rookie Blue‘s Ben Bass) for a year, and doesn’t find out until she’s about to move in with him and he dumps her (pre-title sequence). Some detective, hey, something she herself points out as if the script hopes that the audience will give that stupidity a pass if it points it out itself.

Meanwhile, Angela Griffin (off that Coronation Street no less) stars as Detective Stevie Hall, a sharp quick-witted interrogator who is Jack’s mentor, who has to balance the demands of work and her complicated family life, as well as the arrival of her ex (of 15 years previously) David Cubbitt on the scene.

Lastly, Wendy Crewson (Frankie Drake Mysteries) plays the homicide unit’s boss, ‘who works overtime to secure justice, no matter what the cost’. You know, I’d quite like to have a cop show where everyone works regular hours for a change.

All of which is pretty dull to start with and only gets duller as we investigate our initial crime. Has a doctor murdered his wife, who appears to have committed suicide? He was having an affair with a nurse, after all.

Cue Grimes-Beech over-identifying with the nurse, getting overly involved in the case, Griffin warning her, Crewson telling her to stick to the rules, etc. That’s when she’s not abusing her police powers to track down Bass’s home and wife.

I mean, sure, it manages to integrate the relationships and the investigations better than Women’s Murder Club and its ‘magic Oprah door’. But ‘yawn’ all the same.

The Detail
Shenae Grimes-Beech as Jack Cooper and Angela Griffin as Stevie Hall in The Detail

No redemption

So what was the British name that leapt out at me and made me spare a second thought for The Detail, you might be wondering? Well, a fact little mentioned in all the publicity but mentioned in the titles is that despite the showrunner and show developer being Ley Lukins (Lost Girl, Rookie Blue, Saving Hope), the first episode is ‘based on a script by’ Sally Wainwright, who’s also a producer on the show.

‘Sally Wainwright’, hey? Pretty English, hey? That’s why it leapt out me. But someone who watches UK TV more than me, particularly female-centric police dramas, might have recognised her immediately as the creator of Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and Scott & Bailey. Not inconsequential dramas – some, in fact, highly regarded.

On top of that, as well as in front of the camera with Griffin, look behind the camera and you’ll see vast hordes of top Brits, including noted producer and long-time Russell T Davies collaborator Nicola Shindler, who also worked with Wainwright on Happy Valley et al.

So how come, despite all this female talent and this being just the right #MeToo moment to launch a female-centric police procedural, The Detail is just so generic, so bland, so totally unremarkable and indistinguishable from all the shows that have gone before it?

Maybe they’ve used up all their ideas for the genre on the proceeding shows. Maybe it’s because Lukins’ previous shows were pretty generic, too, and her development of Wainwright’s script rendered it equally soporific. Maybe it’s because it’s CTV, which doesn’t have a stellar drama track record and something got lost in the translation. Maybe it’s because it’s Canadian TV, where sometimes people forget that while assembling a diverse cast is a good thing, you still need to equip them with decent scripts.

Or maybe it’s because female police procedurals are simply converging with male police procedurals – to become as dull as each other.

Whatever the reason, unless I plan on catching up on my sleep soon, I don’t think I’ll be paying attention to The Detail.

UPDATE: It turns out that it really is an adaptation of Scott & Bailey!

War of the Worlds
News

Worldwide renewals and cancellations; Carter, The Detail acquired; + more

Internet TV

International TV

Canadian TV

German TV

Scandinavian TV

UK TV

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

Travelers
News

Young and Hungry cancelled; Travelers goes Netflix-only; Starz’s third Philippa Gregory series; + more

Internet TV

Canadian TV

US TV

New US TV shows

  • Starz green lights: adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse as The Spanish Princess
  • Hulu developing: ‘Satanic panic’ drama Demons

New US TV show casting

Christopher Robin
News

Travelers, Schitt’s Creek, Bad Blood renewed; Killing Eve acquired; + more

Film trailers

  • Trailer for Disney’s Christopher Robin

Internet TV

Canadian TV

UK TV

US TV

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

Allan Hawco in CBC's Caught
Canadian TV

Review: Caught 1×1 (Canada: CBC)

In Canada: Mondays, 9/9.30NT, CBC

Sometimes, you watch a TV show and you wonder to yourself, “What exactly is the point of this?” Not in the sense of it being rubbish, but simply because you want to know what its underlying message is. Usually there is one – it’s what helps plenty of writers to put pen to paper after all – but sometimes, there is no message.

Indeed, after watching the first episode of Caught, CBC’s new crime mini-series based on the acclaimed novel by Lisa Moore, I can’t help but wonder if its only point is to give most of the great and the good of Canadian acting the chance to wear bad wigs, since there doesn’t appear to be a message of any kind – at least, not yet.

Set in 1978, the show stars Allan Hawco (Republic of Doyle, Frontier, The Book of Negroes, ZOS: Zone of Separation) as a former weed-dealer who’s been in prison for four years. However, one night, he manages to make his escape with the help of Roger Cross (Continuum, Arrow, Motive, The Returned, Dark Matter). After laying low for all of a night, he decides to head off to join his former partner Eric Johnson (Smallville, Flash Gordon, Rookie Blue), who’s now branched off into harder stuff and is running a sizeable drugs empire in far warmer climes than Canada. Hot in pursuit is somewhat ill, disgraced detective Paul Gross (Due South, Eastwick, Men with Brooms) and somewhat overlooked, female detective Enuka Okuma (Rookie Blue), who hope he’ll lead them to Johnson. Meanwhile, Johnson has his own troubles, including the fact new business partner Greg Bryk (Frontier, Mary Kills People) has a new girlfriend, Tori Anderson (No Tomorrow, Blindspot).

Paul Gross in Caught
Paul Gross in Caught

And?

All of which is very, very familiar. It’s the standard realm of crime dramas about the drugs trade. Cops, double crosses, plans within plans, everyone seeming to be one thing when they’re actually something else. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone turned out to be an undercover cop by the final episode. Indeed, one of the points made about Moore’s novel was that the plot was very familiar, even if it did flit between twists – it was only her writing that made the novel anything but generic.

Certainly, by the end of the first episode, I found that I’d been more interested in the constantly bad wigs that each and every person has to wear than the plot, even when it’s revealed (spoiler alert) Hawco is really working with Gross to catch Johnson. Gross probably has the most staggering look, although it might be because he’s actually gone white (!), but Okuma’s and Hawco’s wigs are pretty astounding. Only Cross looks the same as always, but I’ll put that down to all the time-travelling he’s been doing of late.

As well as wigs, there are some nice cars, but without the internal monologue Moore uses to drive Hawco’s character in the book, there’s precious little here to lift the show out of the mundane. Were it not for the period details and the fact it’s set in Canada (and the Dominican Republic for a bit of glamour), it could be an episode of more or less any crime show.

Eric Johnson in Caught
Eric Johnson in Caught

Conclusion

The cast are fine. Gross is perhaps playing up his grizzled old detective too much, while Hawco’s almost the opposite – a seemingly nice guy, even though he’s been taking beatings in prisons for four years. Okuma does exactly what you’d expect of her role, as does Johnson, who’s pleasingly oily, if not quite as sociopathic as he needs to be. That just leaves Anderson to surprise, playing the diametric opposite of her No Tomorrow mouse.

But in terms of plotting, there’s nothing much here so far for the discerning viewer. Other than bad 70s hair.