DCI Banks, Series 2, ITV1 | TV reviews, news & interviews
DCI Banks, Series 2, ITV1
Yorkshire grit and northern gloom surround the return of the doleful detective
Charm, politeness and glittering repartee are clearly not considered important qualities for the Yorkshire-based policepersons who work alongside DCI Banks. TV coppers are rarely a barrel of laughs but for this bunch, spitting, snarling and glaring are their default modes of communication. Banks himself, played by Stephen Tompkinson as though he's lugging an invisible York Minster around on his shoulders, has assembled his characterisation of the doleful detective from a mixture of gloom, depression and disgruntlement.
Still, all this fits quite well with panoramic shots of windswept moorlands or rain-drenched quarries, which served as backdrops for this new two-part story (subtitled Strange Affair) which concerns the disappearance and death of Banks's brother, Roy. By the simple expedient of not trying to push the plot along too fast, the film-makers left plenty of space for mood and atmosphere, which accrued like a dark, damp cloud as the episode developed.
The quota of collective bonhomie has by no means been increased by the arrival at the station of DI Helen Morton (Caroline Catz, of Doc Martin infamy, pictured right), who has been drafted in to allow DS Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe) to depart on maternity leave. However, there was just enough of an overlap for the pair of them to get in a few energetic bouts of hissing and scratching, since Cabbot is Banks's girlfriend and Morton had taken it upon herself to declare Banks a murder suspect and to start getting uppity with his loyal troupe of officers. The idea is that Morton is a keen youngish officer on the make, but her caustic tongue, natural gift for sarcasm and Medusa-like bedside manner are a combination toxic enough for someone to drop a grenade into her handbag if she isn't careful.
Among the many things which DI Morton doesn't understand is that DCI Banks is a fully paid-up maverick, of which we were helpfully reminded by the way he knocks back treble whiskies while listening to Miles Davis and doesn't bother answering his phone for most of the day when he's supposed to be the point man in a murder enquiry. Banks (and you can repeat this bit after me) doesn't play by the rules but he gets results, and the more circumstances conspire to implicate him in some heinous crime, the more triumphantly we know he will emerge by the end of episode two.
In this particular case, we were given some mordant glimpses into the family life of the Bankses. Bro Roy is, or was, a partner in a flash-looking holiday company, which gave him a desirable country house of the traditional stone variety, a comfortable lifestyle involving numerous foreign holidays, and a gleaming metallic grey Porsche (pictured left), the driving of which prompted the episode's solitary smile from his older brother Alan. It seems that Alan has strong fraternal feelings for Roy but doesn't really know him that well, and he squeezed out an extra few ccs of surliness when their father Arthur (Keith Barron) told him that he knew Roy had been having an affair with a certain Jennifer Lee, a fact which Roy had kept from him.
Lee was this week's first corpse, having been discovered in her car with a .22-sized bullethole in her head. She was also carrying a piece of paper with directions to DCI Banks's home, which naturally prompted the hopelessly naive Morton to leap to the conclusion that Banks was immersed in a conspiracy to protect his murderous brother, if indeed he wasn't the murderer himself. The discovery of Roy, shot with the same gun, chopped that theory off in its prime, and now we're off on the trail of the mysterious "Exotic Companions" escort-girl website. Meanwhile, if looks could kill, Banks's poisonous stare would have put DI Morton in the ground several times over. Happy ending? Don't make me laugh.
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