Friday, July 28, 2023

The Fatal Blow: notes on Dark Winds, Black Snow and Blue Lights

My screwball comedy essay in February gave me such pleasure that I decided to tackle another type of film that plays well on the small screen. I chose film noir, and between February and July, ended up watching 283 of them to properly prepare. Once the film noir essay was posted, I found I missed having a new noir to turn to whenever I was in need of distraction; I’d grown strangely addicted to the themes of alienation, fatalism, entrapment, obsession and despair that I’d wallowed in for months. I missed having haunted characters to visit on a regular basis. Fortunately, the TV landscape is currently littered with them.

Dark Winds is a ruminative thriller, a taut drama that isn’t afraid of detours. It’s at once broadly designed and tightly focused. Its setting is a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley; its lead character, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Tribal Police, is one of a team of officers charged with patrolling 27,000 square miles of desert terrain. But by zeroing in on the mistrust and sense of loss that consume one Navajo community, the series takes on a tone that’s almost agonizingly claustrophobic. Even something as simple as a family dinner can be derailed by long-simmering resentments and unprocessed grief.

Dark Winds is based on the Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman. The first season — which became the #1 new series in AMC+ history — was developed by Graham Roland and directed mostly by Chris Eyre (both of whom have indigenous roots); they loosely adapted a pair of Hillerman novels, pulling them back about a decade to 1971, to take advantage of the social and technological upheavals transforming Native American communities at the time. And indeed, Dark Winds hits big targets: prejudice, assimilation, forced sterilization and, most emphatically, the casual mistreatment of those living on Navajo land. To non-Native eyes, it feels authentic in its depiction of a community where indigenous farmers mingle with roadside vendors, where political activists wage war against strangers determined to mine the land for oil. (Native reviewers faulted the show for its inaccuracies, but at no point does the series pretend to be a documentary. It’s a set of novels authored by a white man, adapted by an indigenous writing team; for a medium that typically portrays New York City as a town where it’s easy to find street parking and the South as a string of Waffle Houses, I suspect a lot more care was put into this series’ depiction of the Navajo Nation.)

But mostly Dark Winds concerns itself with Joe Leaphorn, who in Season 1 is charged with solving a pair of high-profile cases: a nearby armored-car robbery whose perpetrators appear to be members of a indigenous civil-rights group, and the motel-room murders of an elderly man and young woman from the community. The FBI feigns interest in the motel murders — because homicide is a federal crime, the FBI is expected to take lead — but no one buys it. (As one tribe member asks, “When did the FBI ever care about a dead Indian?”) What interests the FBI is the identities of the bank robbers, and they think Leaphorn can be useful. And so Leaphorn is forced to play ball with the agent assigned to the case, who’s given to insulting platitudes like “one hand washes the other, Kemosabe.” Leaphorn may have to play ball, but that doesn’t mean he has to play nice. Tell you what, he informs the FBI agent: “I will pretend your two bank robbers are Navajo if you pretend my two murder victims are white. Let’s see which one of us does our job quicker, huh?”

The first-season mystery embraces too many characters to keep track of, but you don’t fault it for that. The sense of community, the shared history and traditions, the alliances and discords forged over time — it’s all as important as “solving the crime.” The Navajo culture and customs feel decidedly, almost aggressively uncommon, but showrunner Vince Calandra and his writing team don’t apologize for an outlook and ideology that some might greet with skepticism; Dark Winds is a series as proud as the people it depicts. (Large swaths of dialogue are spoken in Diné, subtitled.) The ritualistic atmosphere isn’t diluted for non-indigenous audiences, whether it’s a tribe member being indoctrinated into the Native American church with a peyote ceremony (which involves ingesting cactus to induce an altered state of consciousness) or Leaphorn’s niece celebrating her Kinaaldá, a Navajo Puberty Ritual held on the fourth night after a girl’s first period. (In a particularly bracing sequence, her joyful menarche ceremony is intercut with another young woman's burial rite — to devastating effect. You might not understand the details of Navajo culture, but some experiences don’t require a translator; the writers know how to bypass your head and head straight for the heart.)

Even the mystical forces that swirl across the reservation are given their full due. Leaphorn himself may be an atheist, but he knows not to discount his people’s core beliefs. The tug-of-war between what these college-educated officers have been taught and the metaphysical aspects of Navajo life they’re forced to navigate is one of the series’ most compelling themes. Leaphorn’s newest deputy, Jim Chee, bristles at the mention of witches, ghosts and shape shifters — all of which are embedded in the Dark Winds narrative — but his resistance is grounded in backstory; he and his mother were driven out of town when she was wrongfully accused of dabbling in the black arts. Yet when Leaphorn’s Chief Deputy Bernadette Manuelito — during an encounter with a woman believed to be a witch — feels mystical forces at play, Chee listens attentively as she advises him, “Got a medicine bundle with you? Well, if you don’t, at least get you a pouch of juniper ash and corn pollen. Keep it with you on patrol. Sometimes out here, the best protection isn’t your .38.” Chee knows better than to dismiss her words as mere superstition; he recognizes them as collective wisdom and common sense. Leaphorn has trained his deputies to see things through the eyes of the people they’re protecting.

Dark Winds has a lot of moving pieces, but Zahn McClarnon — an actor long overdue for a role this meaty — keeps it firmly grounded. Leaphorn has a volatile relationship with the father of one of the murder victims, and a loss within his own family (his son was killed in an explosion at a local drill site) has put a strain on his marriage. He’s demeaned by federal law enforcement and branded a traitor by his own community. He carries with him decades of trauma, and you see it in the deep, dark wells under his eyes, in the tight clench of his triangular jaw. McClarnon lets you survey all the damage. But he also makes you privy to the man’s dignity, dry humor and quiet sense of menace. Leaphorn is steeped in sorrow — and the closer he gets to solving these murders, the more he exposes the wounds of his past. He’s the tormented noir protagonist whose manner reveals more than he’s willing to admit. He can cloak his anger, but he can’t mask the pain.

The first season of Dark Winds is a heady ride hampered only by a let-down of a finale. It’s an all-action conclusion that might satisfy those looking for a more traditional adventure and a faster ride, but all the shoot-outs and explosions in the world can’t compensate for the rich characterizations, unforced pacing and cultural interplay that you’ve come to expect. That the final episode doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm for Season 2 is a mark of the goodwill the series has engendered; you just shrug it off and think, “They’ll get it right next time.” Jeri Ryan — pretty much the one bright spot across three dreary seasons of Picard — joins Dark Winds for Season 2, which debuts July 30. (She’ll be playing “a femme fatale whose physical frailties hide her naked ambition.” The press department is clearly embracing the show’s noir sensibilities.) If what I’ve written hasn’t convinced you to tune in, then Ryan — like McClarnon, an actor who elevates every project smart enough to hire her — should. And you still have time to catch up on Season 1. It’s time well spent.


The camera sets us down in 1994, and as heavy drums command our attention, we see a field of sugar cane burning, then a full moon shrouded in clouds (or is it smoke?) — and finally a teenage girl on her bike, peddling as if her life depended on it. Frantically glancing behind her as she navigates the treacherous path ahead, she’s clearly trying to escape something, but what? Her own destiny, perhaps?

I devoted an essay here, years ago, to charting my affection for the CBS drama Cold Case, which ran from 2003 to 2010. Cold Case had an advantage over the other Jerry Bruckheimer procedurals that were then cluttering the airwaves; because its murders happened in the past — sometimes in the distant past — forensics weren’t often useful or available. The detectives were charged with pinning down the psychology of the crime — with getting inside the heads of the key players. And that made for a show far more resonant than the typical procedural. Five years after Cold Case went off the air, writer Chris Lang reinvigorated the genre with Unforgotten. In Unforgotten (still going strong after five series), we don't meet the suspects only when the police come to interview them. We meet them from the start. Even as a corpse is being uncovered, we're introduced to clusters of friends and family members, and became engaged in their personal stories — without knowing, as of yet, who among them might be connected to the crime. By focusing in on the various suspects, Lang exposes the ways we try to reinvent ourselves, and the sad futility of running from the past.

Black Snow — an Australian series available in the States on AMC+ — charts its own course. The premise is a dandy one. A group of high school seniors in 1994 — in the fictional North Queensland town of Ashford — were charged with assembling a time capsule to be buried after their graduation, and opened at the school’s centenary in 2019. 25 years later, townspeople gather to watch these former students — now in their 40’s — unearth the capsule and read aloud the letters they wrote then, anticipating their futures. Most are typical teenage reveries: “I predict I’ll be a famous game developer living in San Francisco and married to Alyssa Milano.” But it’s Isabel Baker’s note — read by her niece, as Izzy was murdered the night of her senior prom — that proves revelatory: “In 2019, I predict Ashford will still be full of predators disguised as friends. There are people here I trusted, but now I know they feed on suffering. One day, when I’m safe from their clutches, I’ll expose them in their cruelty. That is, if they don’t kill me first.” And that letter turns Izzy’s unsolved case on its ear. The local sheriff had attributed her death to a vagrant or seasonal worker, but with Izzy’s note suggesting she knew her killer well, a detective is dispatched from Brisbane to re-examine the evidence.

And here’s where writer/creator Lucas Taylor flips the script. Instead of relegating Izzy’s life to the memories of friends and family — instead of establishing a fixed present tense and unveiling the murder in flashback — Taylor alternates between two timelines: the events of 25 years ago that led up to Izzy’s death, and the efforts of the detective charged with re-opening the case. And in doing so, he not only transforms the cold-case structure, but prompts us to reassess the very validity of its premise. As you watch Izzy come into her own in 1994, swapping teenage fantasies for adult moralities, it becomes distressingly clear that the detective — as good as he is — is never going to sort it all out. There’s no way he can nail down all the nuances of character, all the seemingly insignificant interactions that — in retrospect — made Izzy’s death all but inevitable. Not that you think he’ll finger the wrong suspect, but the subtleties are lost to history. (The question no longer becomes “can he solve the crime” but “how close can he get to the truth?”) The typical cold-case scenario, by relying on the memories of the survivors, elevates them at the expense of the victim. Black Snow redresses the balance. It makes Izzy the most vivid character on the screen. (And Talijah Blackman-Corowa, in her acting debut, understands how to reconcile Izzy’s inner turmoil with her enviable lack of inhibition.)

Like Dark Winds, Black Snow takes on the oppression of an indigenous people — here, Pacific Islanders forcibly brought to Australia as part of a slave trade practice known as “blackbirding.” (The title card reveals a murder of crows resting on the show’s logo, then flying off, leaving feathers — pieces of themselves — behind.) Between 1864 and 1904, roughly 62,000 Pacific Islanders were shipped to Australia, most to work in the sugar fields. The show draws a parallel between the slave trade of centuries ago and the way modern seasonal workers are exploited: lured to places like Ashford with the promise of a decent living and a living wage. The details of Australian history aren’t handed down dryly, like a civics lesson; they come to light as Izzy grows aware of local practices she finds disturbing. Did she stumble onto something that got her killed?

The cast of characters includes an annoying staple of cold-case dramas — the crotchety cop convinced he “got it right” the first time around — but Taylor renders him irrelevant; his irrelevance is practically the point. This town — so mired in decades-old grievances and centuries-old injustices — was never going to close the case on its own. It needed fresh eyes. And Black Snow is fortunate to have Travis Fimmel in the role of detective James Cormack. Izzy’s letter refers to demons of Pacific Island origin, and Cormack, as it turns out, is wrestling with demons of his own. He’s never been able to shake the abuse he suffered as a child, and he feels a need to punish himself for his past. Fimmel makes you privy to the torment, but he also lets you see how Cormack has trained himself to tuck it away and get down to work. He effects a relaxed, slouchy posture designed to charm and disarm even the most sanctimonious of suspects. With his hornrimmed glasses and Garibaldi beard, he manages to seem quirky yet comforting; you take to him and trust him to do right by Izzy.

Taylor understands how to finesse the tropes that trip up too many cold cases; he makes it clear why clues that weren’t accessible then are accessible now, and why false statements are (finally) ready to be recanted. A whole lot of people who were close to Izzy lied during the initial investigation; to Taylor’s great credit, they had good reason to, but they’re haunted by those lies. Ashford itself has become a kind of ghost town, its refinery smokestacks rising as if in defiance of its shameful legacy: a legacy of slavery and exploitation that Cormack senses early on is tied to the murder of Isabel Baker. Seemingly everyone in town — be it directly or indirectly — had a hand in Izzy’s death; even the slightest of encounters during her final days impacted her actions and behavior. As in any good cold case, you study the suspects as they were, and as they are, and try to figure out who committed the crime — not from the clues that are dropped, but from the changes to the characters over time. And Taylor and his writing team know that, but recognizing too how emotions read on the screen and how easily they can be misconstrued — how guilt can be mistaken for grief, how apathy can be mistaken for guilt — they throw in clever misdirects, and you fall for pretty much every one of them.

At the end of the day, Black Snow gives lie to all the cold-case procedurals that preceded it. Those dramas suggest — and often insist — that the most committed of detectives can fully reconstruct the case at hand. Black Snow presents an alternative theory. Yes, a good detective can determine motive, and come up with enough circumstantial evidence to elicit a confession. But there are details that will remain undiscovered; some secrets will never be deciphered. Izzy led a full and fascinating life, and by sharing that with us — by devoting as many scenes to her final weeks in 1994 as to the ongoing investigation in 2019 — Taylor makes her death impactful in a way that’s uncommon for this sort of procedural. Ashford was a richer place with Isabel Baker in it; she was the piece of the puzzle that everyone else fit snugly around, and the others have spent decades struggling to regroup. And after the case is solved, you’re left with the same sense of sadness that consumes the town. Izzy was a victim of her own compassion, of her conscience and healthy curiosity. The closing of the case is a win for law enforcement, but little comfort. Black Snow retreads all the phrases you hear in procedurals like this — the need to “avenge the victim,” to give the family “the answers they deserve” — but for those of us fortunate enough to know Isabel Baker, the words have never rung so hollow.


BBC One’s Blue Lights doesn’t waste time with introductions; it plunges you right into the action. Like its core characters — three new recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the final months of their probationary period — you learn as you go. You see the three of them in the squad room chatting each other up, and you see them in their police cars being tutored by the more experienced cops to whom they’ve been assigned — and you start to get a glimmer of their personalities. But you have no idea how they’ll behave once they’re out in the field. That’s the point: they don’t know either.

In the opening episode, Annie (Katherine Devlin), who radiates an enviable self-assurance, is sucker punched and literally brought to her knees while reading a man his rights. Her more experienced partner — who ends up taking a beating from the assailant — begs her for help, but Annie’s face is covered with blood (and with vomit she retched into the street), and she can’t bring herself to move her legs. She’s left humbled and humiliated, but her partner — who’s previously been hard on her, trying to mold her into a capable cop — proves unexpectedly compassionate; she shrugs it off with a consoling “it happens to all of us." But no sooner does Annie return to the station than she learns that the assailant is suing her for wrongful detention and assault. (“These bastards know the law better than we do half the time,” barks her superior, who shows little sympathy: “I want your statement by the end of the day. You make up a single detail, you stretch a single fact, you’re out.”) And the following morning comes another blow; the department informs her she’s received a death threat. They can’t do anything to keep her safe, but they advise she take additional precautions for herself and those she loves. And you watch as her tough-as-nails exterior — through the course of just 24 hours — gives way to disquietude and self-imposed isolation.

The new recruits keep putting their best foot forward, and keep coming up short. The youngest and most insecure rookie, Tommy (newcomer Nathan Braniff, with a face that’s practically aching for approval — it’s great casting), seems to come into his own when he sees a drug deal going down; he launches from his squad car into a lengthy pursuit, culminating in capture. But the older cop who’s training him, noting it’s a minor offense, insists they let the kid go: “Do you think we’re gonna waste an overnight cell on that?”

In Blue Lights, good work doesn’t necessarily get rewarded — or even applauded. The third recruit Grace — a 41-year-old single mother who left her job as a social worker (it’s Siân Brooke, one of Blue Lights’ few non-Northern Irish cast members) — is trying to convince a couple to finger the mobsters who shot their son. (Grace still believes things can be sorted if they’re talked out; you can’t decide whether to admire her positive outlook or groan at her naïveté — and the writers bask in the ambivalence.) The parents are terrified — knowing that, if they testify, they’ll be targeted — but Grace persuades them, then secures their safety by arranging for them to take lodging with family members in another town. And then some mid-level inspector decides it’s not a case worth prosecuting — and so a family has uprooted their lives and sacrificed their safety for nothing. It’s a gut punch you feel as powerfully as Grace does. What was the point? Blue Lights is full of wasted efforts and lost opportunities. You’re accustomed to seeing subplots reach a satisfying conclusion — or at the very least, some conclusion. Here you’re frequently left in limbo, or blindsided, or hung out to dry. The narrative places you squarely in the mindset of the cops, and you come to share their frustrations.

The officers in Blue Lights — both the rookies and the veterans — respond to domestic disturbances and reports of indecent exposure; they engage in foot pursuits and car chases. They run up regularly against a syndicate that appears untouchable. And they put up with a whole lot of bureaucracy. Key crime scenes are deemed out of bounds because another agency got there first. One false move and they’re at the mercy of a disciplinary inquiry that will not only stain their reputation, but cost them a day on the streets. And the streets themselves are brutal. Belfast, where the story takes place, is still trapped in the shadow of the Troubles, the ethno-nationalist conflict that paralyzed Northern Ireland from the late 1960’s till 1998. During those 30 years, shootings, bombings and assassinations became commonplace. (302 police officers were killed.) And even though the police were demilitarized in 2001, public perception has been slow to change. As the cops try to do their jobs — and are met with hurled objects and howled epithets, a lot of them from teenage kids — you realize a whole generation is seemingly unaware of what first fractured the relationship between the public and the police force. They don’t remember the terror that triggered their parents and grandparents; they’re just replaying — as if by rote — the fear and fury of those who came before them.

Blue Lights exudes a feeling of futility common to the noirs. Grace can empathize with anyone — except those she's closest to; Tommy is so consumed with the past that he’ll willingly let it destroy his future; Annie is buckling under the knowledge that her fate is out of her hands. But then, all of the cops are hounded by obsessions, or mired in patterns of behavior that are at best unhealthy and at worst downright dangerous. There’s a noir-infused sense of dread that's inescapable. These officers have been trained to scan the area and check under their vehicle whenever they step outside. After a while, their paranoia grows contagious. Every time they start their engine, you anticipate an explosion; every time they step onto a crime scene, you expect it to erupt in violence. You watch the series figuring that at least one of the principal characters won’t make it — and you find yourself hunting for clues as to who it might be, and why. Will it be optimism that proves their undoing, or cynicism? (In Blue Lights, youth doesn’t necessarily equate to innocence, nor age to apathy.) Will it be a targeted attack or a random act of brutality? It’s a miracle that these cops make it through the day unscathed — and with their sanity intact — but how much longer will their luck hold out?

Blue Lights was written by two Belfast ex-journalists, Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn, and they know the streets well. They’re strongest when dramatizing the complexities of the city through the differing ways the cops choose to respond. (For a police drama, it’s a master class in character-driven plotting.) They’re weakest when the veterans offer up pearls of wisdom that the rookies recall just when they need them most — but even that stale device is refreshed when one of the old-timers, fed up with the red tape, willfully ignores his own advice. Ultimately what Patterson and Lawn have written is a show about powerlessness, as seen through the eyes of those charged with maintaining order. It’s the rare series that emasculates its subjects even as it elevates them; even at its most generous, it’s merciless. In its depiction of cops as heroes, it feels conventional — even a bit ordinary — but in its further delineation of cops as doomed heroes, it feels subversive and potent and at times genuinely painful. These officers have their triumphs, but at the end of the day, they inhabit a world where just about everything — justice, redemption, even love — comes at a cost.

Want more? Check out an essay called "Men in the Middle," highlighting four recent series that owe much of their success to the onscreen personas of their leading men: The Tourist, This Is Going to Hurt, The Responder and Around the World in 80 Days; an essay called "Negotations", in praise of three series that brightened my 2022: Minx, The Ipcress File and Inside Man; an essay entitled "Rough Edges," in praise of two addictive comedies that I discovered in 2021, Back to Life and The Other Two; another entitled "Private Faces," highlighting two spectacular series that emerged in the fall of 2020, Roadkill and Life; and a fifth called "Unwilling Victims," taking a look at three recent series by and about women: The Trial of Christine Keeler, Deadwater Fell and Flesh and Blood. I offer up The Five Best TV Shows You Might Not Be Watching, Five Foreign TV Dramas You Shouldn't Miss, and my most personal essay, inspired by the death of my puppy Czerny in June of 2021, The 10 Most Comforting TV Episodes About Death.

If you like in-depth looks at hit shows, I delve into Rhoda Season 3, Maude Season 2, Newhart Season 7, WKRP in Cincinnati Season 4 and Bewitched Season 2; serve up my 10 Best Episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Designing Women, WKRP in Cincinnati and Kate & Allie; pen an appreciation of Mike & Molly; and offer up some thoughts as to why The New Adventures of Old Christine took such a tumble in quality over its five seasons. Or if you prefer dramas, check out my write-ups of of Criminal Minds Season 8, Judging Amy Season 6, Voyager Season 4, Doctor Who Series 8, Cold Case Season 4, Gilmore Girls Season 7 (and the subsequent, ill-judged Netflix miniseries), and fourteen essays devoted to all the seasons of the great nighttime soap Knots Landing, starting here. I also look back at Murder, She Wrote and pick out The 10 Best "Murder She Wrote" Mysteries: not (necessarily) the best episodes, but the best whodunnits.


  1. I certainly can't compete with the amount of television you watch.

    Sometimes, I often wonder why I still devote myself to film when, in many ways, it is sort of a dying art form.

    I am going to need to start making a list based off your blog for shows to start gradually checking out over the next couple of months before we really hit film festival season.

    1. I don’t know that Philip and I watch that much TV — but we try to watch as much *good* TV as we can. I really don’t stick with shows anymore if they’re not interesting me, or if they just feel “average.” I think the three dramas I wrote about here are splendid, but man, there has been a lot of average TV recently, especially in the crime drama and espionage and sci-fi departments. Philip and I don’t tend to binge things; we try to stagger episodes to once a week or so, so we're watching a lot of shows at once. Most summers we’re watching 20 great shows simultaneously. This year we’ve struggled to find 12 or 15. I don’t think it’s been a particularly good year for television, certainly not here in the States, and I don’t think the UK got off to a strong start either — not like in 2022, when The Tourist, This Is Going to Hurt and The Responder all premiered within a week or so of each other. And given that there’s probably not going to be any new network programming until 2024, heaven knows what the fall months will be like. But that said, I’ve watched a few other things lately that I thought were extremely good, that I look forward to writing up. After I tackle a sitcom from 15 years ago. :)

      If you do start to watch some of the shows I’ve talked about over the last few years, let me know what you think. It’s still criminal how many great shows from the UK never make their way across the pond. When I look at the mediocre British shows that PBS often picks up, and the incredible ones they pass on, it just pains me.

    2. It does amaze me how the UK seems to get so many of our shows but we barely get any of theirs.

      As a kid, my local PBS station would show:
      Are You Being Served?
      As Time Goes By
      Keeping Up Appearances (my sentimental favorite)
      Father Ted
      Fawlty Towers
      Monty Python
      And of course, random Masterpiece Theatre showings...I can remember watching the 1981 Brideshead Revisited and also the original Upstairs Downstairs that way.

      And I remember watching AB FAB on Comedy Central and the original OFFICE and COUPLING on BBC America.

      It still felt so limited.

    3. When I was growing up, it was just PBS that imported shows. Then BBC America. But now British series also make their way to Max and AMC and TNT and BritBox US and Netflix (that’s just off the top of my head) — so it’s crazy how many worthy shows *still* don’t make it here. My favorite show of 2019, 'Summer of Rockets,' never got here — and it’s freaking Stephen Poliakoff. One of my favorite shows of 2020, 'Life,' never got here, nor did one of my favorites of 2022, 'Life After Life.' And as I look at the list I’m currently compiling for my “best of 2023,“ I see three UK shows for which, as far as I know, there have been no US takers. Very frustrating.

  2. Tommy, I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen any of these. But I’m glad to hear the first two are available on AMC+. I realize only now that I never canceled my AMC+ subscription after finishing Discovery of Witches, so at least it’ll be put to good use. I’ll check them out. Is Blue Lights airing anywhere in the US?

    1. Sadly, no. But it's been picked up for a second series, so now that it's got some "legs," I have to believe *some* network — Max or AMC+ or Britbox US — will pick it up.

  3. That's three to look out for. I almost watched Blue Lights at the time but was a bit Line of Dutied out back then. Dark Winds looks the best of the bunch from your review and I'll try and track that one down.

    1. Terry, it’s always so nice to see your “face“ pop up here. All three are superb; if you can’t find Dark Winds over there, Blue Lights is very much worth your time. To me, it didn’t feel a thing like Line of Duty (of which, I confess, I’m not a fan — but then, most Mercurio is not to my taste); Patterson and Lawn carve out a tone that’s uniquely their own. I actually had a very kind note from Lawn yesterday in response to my essay; filming is about to commence on Series 2. It’s always nice when good shows get renewed. :)