ITV’s new cop drama ‘Scott & Bailey’ kicked off on Sunday night, according to this article from Digital Spy , with a whopping 8.2 million viewers. There is clearly an audience for this style of show then and the pairing of Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp as the eponymous detectives clearly proved a big draw.
And so it should. Jones and Sharp produce consistently great performances, the presence of one of these actresses in a show will encourage me to watch it and so with both together I had high expectations.
Unfortunately, those expectations were not met, not through the fault of their performances, but because of a cliché-laden script with plot holes galore and some horribly clunky dialogue that really let the programme down.
In this opener, the detectives were investigating the murder (oh, sorry, apparent suicide) of a young, pregnant, Turkish woman. They quickly discovered her husband was having an affair and set their detective noses after the ‘other woman’. Meanwhile, DC Rachel Bailey (Jones) had just been dumped by boyfriend Nick Savage (played by Rupert Graves, who seems to be ever-present at the moment). In case you hadn’t guessed by the use of the surname ‘Savage’, it turned out Nick was A BAD GUY, with Bailey discovering her two year relationship was built upon lies and Savage had another life with a wife and children. Much of the episode was then spent on following Rachel’s turmoil as she decided whether she wanted to take revenge, to tell the wife, before she eventually settled for a little blackmail instead. You see the parallels between her life and her case there? I’m pretty sure you couldn’t miss them. Although lots of shows use this device by relating ‘case of the week’ scenarios to the characters lives, the best scripts integrate them a whole lot better than this did.
Openers are of course notoriously hard to get right for any television show, so a few teething problems are to be expected. Perhaps it was my expectations and my preconceived ideas about what a ‘buddy cop show’ was that clouded my view of the show. I fully expected the two detectives to be polar opposites of each other, (which proved correct,; Bailey the headstrong, feisty, rule-bending one and Sharp’s DC Janet Scott, the calm, detached, rule-book abiding one), I fully expected them to both have dysfunctional and different private lives that impacted upon their cases. I expected these things and I was ok with that. I did however, expect Scott & Bailey to share a friendship that extended above and beyond everything else and an easy banter that was endearing and fun to watch. Whilst watching the episode however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that far from being best friends, Scott & Bailey barely seemed to know each other at times, and barely seemed to even like each other during certain conversations. Scott’s cold ‘You’ve been had, haven’t you?’ speech the moment that stood out as the most bizarre.
Of course, this was a first episode, and some things had to be given more time than others. Lesley Sharp had less screen time to really make an impression with her character and perhaps in the coming weeks the relationship between the two will be shown to grow. I hope so, as despite my criticisms here, I really am willing the show to succeed. I like the idea of a female buddy cop show and Sunday night seems like the perfect place for it, an enjoyable and entertaining hour of television that brings the weekend to a close.
I will stick with the show and if the rest of the 8.2 million viewers on Sunday night do too then we have a sure fire hit on our hands, regardless of any complaints. I just hope that the scripts in the coming weeks do justice to the talents of the two leading actresses, who together could form a fantastic pairing.
Ultimately, with Jones and Sharp on board, Scott & Bailey has potential and plenty of it, but the next few weeks will determine whether the script, direction and performances can all come together to form a top cop drama.
Watch Scott & Bailey, Sunday nights at 9pm on ITV1