Must-see bleak yet brilliant TV crime dramas (listed in order of 'bleak'-ness)
Many of these brilliantly executed crime/mystery dramas are deliberately set in dreary locales, yet make for compelling entertainment:
Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
Annoying element: The nasty drug-lord father.
|Abusive drug-lord dad with his sons (Beauty and the Beast's Jay Ryan at right)|
Bleakometer: 10. Set in a super remote part of New Zealand that's suffocating and eerie.
Pros: We know who the serial killer is right from the beginning.
Bleakometer: 9. Set in Belfast, made all the grayer in contrast with Stella's golden hair and silky shirts.
Pros: Catchy narrative based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen and accompanied by an equally catchy musical score.
Cons: The who-killed-Rosie-Larsen storyline took 2 seasons to complete.
Annoying element: Just when Sarah Linden starts smiling and wearing makeup (in the current season), you know things are about to screw up.
Bleakometer: 8. Set in rainy Seattle, Washington, which is somehow dingier than Forks (Twilight movies) and darker than Twin Peaks (Twin Peaks series).
Pros: Matthew Macfayden's terrific take as Inspector Reid (more at ease than Johnny Depp's Inspector Abberline in From Hell).
Cons: Limited to the squalor of the East End.
Annoying element: Amanda Hale as Mrs. Reid. Seriously. http://reel-life-reviews.blogspot.com/2013/07/mt-tv-marathon-recommendations-for.html
Bleakometer: 7. Seemingly unlimited grime and poverty in Victorian-era East End.
Pros: As fast paced as a period drama can be.
Cons: Too many parallels with Ripper Street.
Annoying element: Historical sterotypes, as in virgin/whore female characterisations.
Bleakometer: 6. Grisly Five Points region circa 1860s NYC.
Pros: Dishy James Purefoy as serial killer Joe Carroll.
Cons: The words of Edgar Allen Poe can be repetitive if you've already watched Jon Cusack in The Raven.
Annoying element: Carroll's freaky/geeky followers.
Vexed (Seasons 1 & 2: BBC Two)
|Detective Inspectors Jack Armstrong (the incomparable Toby Stephens) and Georgina Dixon (Miranda Raison) in Season 2|
|Kate Bishop (Lucy Punch) with Jack Armstrong (Toby Stephens) in Season 1|
Pros: Brilliant comedy/drama cop show centering on the chemistry between Jack Armstrong (Toby Stephens) and his female cop partners: Kate Bishop (Lucy Punch) in Season 1 and the fantastic Georgina Dixon (Miranda Raison) in Season 2.
Cons: Hasn't been renewed.
Annoying element: Should've been renewed!
Bleakometer: 1. Looks like a low-budget, less electric version of London. Otherwise quite cheery.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Must also watch these sumptuous, recently aired Agatha Christie adaptations (warning: they aren't bleak at all!)
To be followed in 2013/2014 by The Big Four, The Labours of Hercules, Dead Man's Folly and Curtain (finale episode).
Julia McKenzie as the current Jane Marple with the cast of A Caribbean Mystery
To be followed in 2013/2014 by Endless Night and others.