Creator: Jed Mercurio
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar
If you haven’t been watching Line Of Duty, where have you been for approximately the last decade (almost)? With a flashy trailer, punchy punchline, and some seriously moody graphics to boot, the sixth series marked its return with an attention-grabbing entrance.
But was the series really worth all the hype, especially because filming was significantly impacted by the godforsaken Covid 19 pandemic? As usual, there are some spoilers past this point.
What About The Chief of Police?
Read more: Line Of Duty Season 6 Episode 3 Review
Series six is ultimately frustrating for the failure to deal with the chief of police. A lot of fuss, noise is made about him being a “bare faced liar” – all the while being promoted to “our highest office” – featured prominently throughout the series and related promotional material. He is also literally the reason Steve Arnott is transferred to the Anti Corruption unit in the first place, for failing to go along with corrupt orders that lead to someone innocent being shot dead. We know he is corrupt – and yet nothing is really resolved about this at all. An unsatisfactory failure to take down the biggest ‘top dog’ within the inner structure of the police force.
The Pandemic Is A Challenge – But It Gave Way To Innovation
To be filming during a pandemic is one thing – and is likely to be daunting at the very least. Reshooting was needed, and a lot of the footage from series six actually takes place outside. Social distancing is also shown at different points, too, such as when meeting people outside, or staying the two meters required away from a therapist. An extra episode is always a bonus, too; it keeps us occupied away from very real misery during this god forsaken pandemic.
But the editing was a little too fragmented at times – which lead to a lack of continuity.
Can We Check The Ableism?
Ableism is something very real, and something incredibly malignant and always in need of a challenge. Yes, this is a drama – it is not at all real – but is designed to be realistic in such a way that there are advisors to the show to be as formulaic as possible in the way scenes are constructed and carried out.
But positive representation, and a moderation of language, is dearly needed. It will always impact the way that we see ourselves, because it translates to attitudes off-screen. Disability, however, is not a tragedy trope – and the emphasis on ‘suffering’ is incredibly grating at times. The social model of disability is the preference for most places now, and is slowly transmitting to becoming the default position in cultural life. This is not the case for the series, however. The character of Terry Boyle has Downs Syndrome – but is not the first person with a learning disability to be used as a patsy for organised crime. It would be so utterly refreshing to see a disabled main character, at the very least, without the use of tragedy tropes. Just for once.
We are also left with the knowledge that Terry Boyle was eventually ‘free to go’ – with an inquiry into failings surrounding his welfare. But that is hardly at all satisfactory, but is perhaps reflective of Britain’s attitude to disabled individuals. An apology is the one thing missing – or at least some compensation. The lack of analysis shows lacking character development, perhaps because of the edit of the episode, or the script.
Lack Of Dynamism
Compared to the previous series’, there is hardly a sense of dynamism, sans a few select moments. The Lindsay Denton years had some of the most intense, controversial moments of the franchise; who can forget the amazing shootout scene with Vicky McClure’s character leading the action? There is a lack of sexed-up drama, and the series is somewhat poorer for it.
Character Development Is Always A Bonus
Read more: Line Of Duty Season 6 Finale Spoiler Review
Line Of Duty has been on our screens for the best part of a decade, with six complete series’ – and character development after all this time is always a bonus. It brings gritty realism to the screen, as well as believability. Adrian Dunbar, in his role as Superintendent Ted Hastings, deserves some sort of award for an utterly compelling performance – especially in the final episode. There is a believable vulnerability, humanity to the guns and shooting lifestyle that comes with the job.
What Does This Say About Policing Culture And Public Life?
After all this time, Line Of Duty should leave us all with some very important inner questions. What does this say about policing culture, and public life in general? Given the questioning of policing recently – such as racism in the US, deaths in custody and heavy-handed policing in the UK – this was an incredibly great time to air the series.
A cultural view is that corruption is just the work of one rotten apple, and is not something institutionalised. Is that really realistic, however? If you read the work of journalist Michael Gillard, or listen to Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder (as mentioned in the series), you would be left with the view that ‘organised incompetence’ is actually more accurate than just a few bad ‘uns dotted here and there. The Daniel Morgan Independent Panel will report soon – and even some newspaper reports suggest it will be a bloodbath in supporting the view corruption is not just a one-off.
For the emphasis on truth and accountability, we needed this series far more than we ever thought. It is a tonic, a balm to the soul when it comes to the questioning of shared public values; it is a great metaphor, coincidentally. For just one very brief moment, Adrian Dunbar became something of a national hero for his speeches about honesty and integrity. We have been miserable for over a year because of the pandemic – and we were finally relieved, if only for a moment.
Did you enjoy Line Of Duty Season 6 on BBC One?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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