sun 24/10/2021

Good Cop, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Good Cop, BBC One

Good Cop, BBC One

The BBC's new prime time police drama is handcuffed by cliché

Warren Brown in 'Good Cop': unsmiling but studly

A sense of déjà vu strikes from the very first shot. It is a dark and stormy night. A lone man staggers down an empty street through the lashing rain. Once indoors we see he has blood on his hands. A minute has not yet passed but Warren Brown – for it is he – tears his shirt off. Before we can admire the size of the former cage fighter’s guns he produces a real one. Roll titles.

They identify the man as a Good Cop. John Paul – never just John – Rocksavage is a clumsy name for a leading character. His creator, Stephen Butchard, wants us to know that the politically correct PC is Catholic, steadfast and has a fierce sense of justice. His sidekick Andy is – of course – the opposite. Given the brush-off by Amanda, a new blonde colleague, he accuses her of being a lesbian and thinks nothing of stealing a Twix from a potential crime scene.

There are plenty of incidental pleasures. Fans of spot the cliché will have a ball

However, before we can enjoy actor Tom Hopper’s startling resemblance to Dermot O’Leary (presenter of The X Factor, an equally formulaic show) Andy is set upon by a gang of thugs in a horrifying scene featuring a baseball bat and a big TV set. It just so happens that the ringleader is Noel Finch, the psycho John Paul prevented from raping a waitress in a lavatory while he and Andy were on refs at lunchtime. Finch – well-played by the ubiquitous Stephen Graham (pictured below right), reprising his role as Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire – had promised to hammer the next solo copper he met.

This is not the only coincidence in the plot. When John Paul is visiting the dying Andy in hospital he bumps into the mother of a dead baby they had encountered that morning. The scene hammers home that JP is a good cop – sensitive to the feelings of others – just as he is a good son, checking up on his bedridden father (Michael “this one’s me favourite” Angelis) via a laptop. But is he really a good cop?

While Andy is being battered, JP – on the wrong side of a set of bars (nudge, nudge) – just yells his name and gawps when he should be calling for back-up and an ambulance. The image of being on the wrong side of the law is repeated when JP, being fingerprinted for the purposes of elimination, is shot from below the desk so that the strip-lights above him resemble prison bars. This is drama for the unthinking couch potato: you just have to sit back and let it wash over you. Even when JP recognises one of Andy’s attackers in the custody suit a flashback to the attack underlines the significance of the meeting. This suggests a general lack of confidence in the script.

No matter how justified this may be, the result still provides plenty of incidental pleasures. The scene in which JP becomes a full-blown vigilante – blowing away Finch with a gun that he has found at the scene of the crime when he shouldn’t have been anywhere near it – is satisfyingly violent. Fans of spot-the-cliché – estranged lover and child; two separate cases that promise, as in any old episode of The Bill, to become connected – will have a ball.

In fact Good Cop more closely recalls another blues-and-twos show that was also set in Liverpool. Waterfront Beat, created by Phil Redmond in the early Nineties, was intended to be a rival to The Bill but followed procedure so precisely it was eventually axed after two series. Unless Good Cop improves (dramatically) over the next three weeks it will suffer a similar fate. However, Warren Brown – unsmiling but studly – makes for a charismatic, if not exactly guilt-stricken, protagonist. The camera loves him – which is just as well since it is trained on him most of the time. He ensures that two things do stand out: his pecs.

This is drama for the unthinking couch potato: you just have to sit back and let it wash over you

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Comments

I couldn't agree more with this review. Having seen the average ratings for the first episode on Imdb, I have lost all faith in the television audience (not that I had much to begin with): 8/10? I gave it a 3 - that's because of Tom Hopper and I like the director's style. The problem is, the director didn't have much to work with seeing as the plot is too slow, has too many clichés.. there just really isn't much point to the story. Among many other things, this is what I could not stand: - Plausibility. You mentioned JP standing there watching his partner being battered to a pulp and not calling for backup.. hello? - Editing and plot needs more pace. Too many pondering ends of scenes when there's nothing to ponder, "Please just show us the next scene". I feel they were struggling to hit that 1hr mark. - There were far too many close ups of JP – we get it, he's the main character, he's the "good cop", we're supposed to empathize with him, but because of the lack of scope to his character, it's tiring seeing the same expressions on his face and its near impossible to empathize. - If Amanda (whom Andy (Tom Hopper) was chatting up) were a cop in real life, she would have been attacked a long time ago and have quit – female police officers are there to enforce law; they do not swing their hips like that. - To top it all off, they clearly don't know when they're onto a good thing – Andy was the most interesting character (played by a great actor) and they killed him off within the first half an hour! I would actually considering watching the second episode if JP were killed and Andy were left to sort through the mess. Warren Brown is a good actor, and I especially loved him in one of the BBC's other dramas, "Inside Men", but unfortunately, I feel there just isn't much for him to do with this role. Seriously, if you really want to see someone "good" do something bad retributively, watch the Bourne films – at least his writers make Jason do it credibly.

I really enjoyed it. Good storyline, good acting. No need to over-analyse it, it was just a good piece of TV drama, raising some interesting questions.

Pure fantastic BBC veiwing - police drama, it's "A Must See Film"... I trust that the BBC releases further episodes and welcome the heads up if they are going to release them! For once in a while, you 'The BBC' have actually released a something NEW and well worth paying your TV licence for, so come on BBC lets see more positive action! Jonathan Stafordshire, UK

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