Best TV crime dramas of 2014

THIS ROUND-UP of the year’s best TV crime dramas has for the past four years comfortably listed 10 outstanding series.2014, on the other hand, is a tougher proposition. There were so many terrific stories and performances that I found it impossible to restrict it to 10. So, to celebrate the New Year, here is my top 14 for 2014…

True Detective, Sky Atlantic

A simply indelible series that was unlike anything else out there in 2014. Haunting, a little mad and with a dream-like – or perhaps that should be nightmarish – atmosphere. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson put in a shift, too. Our review

Happy Valley, BBC1

Sally Wainwright’s gritty drama was engrossing and powerful, and also had one of the performances of the year from Sarah Lancashire. The second series will have a tough act to follow. Our review

Peaky Blinders, BBC2

Really hit its stride in this second series. Great to see a revival of the British gangster drama that dared to be brash and different. Our review

Sherlock 3, BBC1

Some people did not like this flamboyant third series, but we did and so did most reviewers. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat were really on their game, producing a drama that fizzed with jaw-dropping surprises and delights. Our review

The Bridge 2, BBC4

Superb follow-up to the first series, which pushed our heroes Saga and Martin into new intrigue and emotional turmoil. Kim Bodnia won’t return to series 3 because his character, of course, ended up in jail, but Sofia Helin will (see Digital Spy’s interview with them)
Our review

Line of Duty 2, BBC2

Another feather in BBC2’s cap this year, this drama about police corruption was superb and completely outshone the first series. Keeley Hawes dominated proceedings with a compelling performance as the inspector under suspicion. Our review

The Widower, ITV

Once again ITV came up with a fascinating exploration of a real crime. Reece Shearsmith as the slippery killer Malcolm Webster was haunting, in a drama that was way better than his other series this year, the unconvincing Chasing ShadowsOur review

Fargo, C4

It never came close to catching the bleak logic and black humour of the Coen brothers’ cult film, but this series starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton was quirky enough to keep everyone frozen to the screen. Our review

The Missing, BBC1

Sober, intelligent and always engrossing eight-part tragedy. The disappearance of a five-year-old British boy on holiday in France was a difficult subject, but this was a truthful and heartfelt series that was totally involving. Our review

Gomorrah, Sky Atlantic

Powerful Italian series, based on Roberto Saviano’s frightening book about the Neapolitan Camorra, which revealed how insidious and slightly unhinged Southern Italian crime organisations are. Our review

The Honourable Woman, BBC2

Twisting, full of intrigue and beautifully made and acted, this follow-up to The Shadow Line from writer/producer/director Hugo Blick was one of the most captivating dramas of 2014. Maggie Gyllenhaal stepped out of her Hollywood comfort zone and gave a blockbuster performance. Our review

Scott & Bailey, ITV

Once again this ITV staple with Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones got all the basics of good drama right, while coming up with some really intriguing crime stories. Our review

Boardwalk Empire, Sky Atlantic

A series that has never really grabbed audiences in the UK, but as it approached its finale it was always beautifully written, acted and produced. Our review

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

ITV specialises in dramas inspired by real events and again came up with a sober, fascinating series about the wrongful arrest of the eccentric ex-school teacher. Jason Watkins was terrific in the lead. Our review

Honourable mentions to… 
The Fall 2 – even if the finale made a hash of Stella’s character and was ultimately disappointing (see our mini-poll, above right), this had some great moments along the way; Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Suspects; Endeavour 2; Mammon; 24: Live Another Day; Amber; Utopia; Crimes of Passion; The Driver; Legends; Glue; Grantchester; and Common.
Fond farewells…
to Ronnie Brooks (and Law & Order: UK as well?), and Southland.
Disappointments…
Hostages; Salamander; the pilot for Bosch; Babylon did not quite cut it; Turks & Caicos – all prestige production and cast that failed to grip; Prey; Hinterland; Chasing Shadows; and Stalker, which was pretty dire.

Follow @crimetimeprev

Gomorrah episode 2 PREVIEW

Ciro and ‘that idiot’ Genny

Sky Atlantic: Monday, 11 August, 9pm  

AFTER LAST WEEK’S explosive opener, when Don Pietro ordered his clan, including Ciro, to take revenge against Conte – with general mayhem and slaughter the result – episode 2 finds the Neapolitan gang suspecting that there’s a traitor in their ranks.

A huge consignment of cocaine is discovered by police at the gigantic container port in Naples, so unforgettably described by author Roberto Saviano in his passionate exposé of the Camorra, on which this 12-part series is based.

When Don Pietro learns that the police went straight to the container to find the drug, it’s clear someone has tipped them off. After last week’s carnage in Secondigliano, this disaster puts huge pressure on the boss. So he could do without his pampered son, ‘that idiot’ Genny, destroying cars and writing huge graffiti insults on another gang’s turf.

What, the soldiers want to know, would happen if Pietro were arrested? They’d be under the command of the boss’s stupid heir.

Gomorrah really hits it stride this week. The tension is palpable as all the characters are on edge. Attilio’s widow has harsh words for Ciro, and we see the young pretender’s ruthless side when he is ordered by Pietro to take Genny on a hit to blood him.

Saviano’s book is a passionate and ferocious indictment of the Neapolitan gangs, and this series gives us a frightening insight into the twisted, grisly world he describes.

It all ends in devastating style at the end of the episode, as a huge crisis hits the clan when floundering Pietro’s worst fears are realised.

Check out these links…
Gomorrah Sky Atlantic
Series preview on CrimeTimePreview
Roberto Saviano interviewed in the Telegraph

Follow @crimetimeprev

Gomorrah, Sky Atlantic, PREVIEW

Brutal – the lives (and architecture) of Gomorrah. Pics: Sky Atlantic

Rating: ★★★★

Sky Atlantic: starts Monday, 4 August, 9pm

Story: Brutal Neapolitan crime organisation the Camorra wage a bitter war against a rival. 

THIS PROBING look at the Neapolitan crime mob, the Camorra, is based on a revelatory and bestselling exposé by ‘vigilante journalist’ Roberto Saviano and follows a 2008 film adaptation of his book.

Gritty is an overused adjective when it comes to crime dramas, but Gomorrah has the social and economic context to pack quite a punch. It’s filmed in the grim suburb of Scampia, where mob drugs infect disintegrating 1960s housing estates and motorways cut off the area from the baroque splendour of Naples itself.

The largely unknown cast speak in a thick Neapolitan dialect and the series is a dark meditation on a dysfunctional world in which a man can have dinner and an espresso with his family, before going off to take part in a massed gun slaughter.

Marco D’Amore as Ciro

Pietro Savastano is a clan godfather who, as the action begins, sends his soldiers to teach Salvatore

Powers on the throne – Don Pietro and his wife, Imma

Conte a lesson after his drug dealing has infringed their turf. Ciro and his mentor Attilio set light to gasoline on the front door of Conte’s mother’s apartment while he’s there eating.

As retaliation follows bloodbath and further retaliation, the tensions in Don Pietro’s outfit are exposed. Ciro, played by Marco D’Amore, is unhappy at Pietro’s rash and ill-planned attack on Conte, which results in Attilio’s death.

Pietro is pleased to get the upper hand over Conte, but Ciro, an opinionated right-hand man, yearns for vengeance against their enemy.

The action scenes are shockingly convincing

Gomorrah is a 12-parter and has been a huge hit in Italy. Much of it is filmed verité-style on dark streets by Stefano Sollima, who also made the hit series Romanzo Criminale, and the action scenes –
such as the bomb thrown into a cafe – are shockingly convincing.

Ciro and Genny

The contrasts between the private family men and their brutality to outsiders, between the vast drug wealth and the squalor of Scampia, between the vulgar bad-taste mansion of Pietro and the desperation of his underlings are constantly absorbing.

This Sky Italia production is a cut above most crime dramas around at the moment, and will linger in your thoughts for some time.

Cast: Marco D’Amore Ciro Di Marzio, Fortunato Cerlino Pietro Savastano, Maria Pia Calzone Imma Savastano, Salvatore Esposito Genny Savastano, Marco Palvetti Salvatore Conte, Domenico Balsamo Massimo, Elena Starace Noemi, Antonio Milo Attilio O’Trovatello, Mimmo Esposito Renato Bolletta

Follow @crimetimeprev

Sky Atlantic’s Gomorrah is a big hit in Italy

GANG DRAMAS have ruled in recent years. There’s been Peaky Blinders on the Beeb, Mob City on Fox and before that the landmark HBO bruisers The Sopranos and The Wire.

But the Italian drama Gomorrah, based on Roberto Saviano’s 2006 non-fiction book about the Naples underworld (which was also spun off into the 2008 movie by Matteo Garrone), could be one of the most interesting – and hard-hitting – yet.

It’s been a big draw on Sky Italia, where it finished its run earlier this month, and it’s been sold to 50-odd countries, with Sky Atlantic, the Italian network’s sister channel, nabbing it for the UK.

Much of its power is obviously down it being based on real events, filmed in the rougher parts of Naples, and its gritty tone.

Gomorrah‘s killers, dealers and corrupt politicians

Stefano Sollima, who also made the hit series Romanzo Criminale, is responsible for the series’
art direction and directed some episodes. He’s expert at giving his dramas a vérité feel.

Gomorrah, a 12-parter, carries a pungent tang of violence and cynicism as it retells the story of rival factions of the Camorra, the Naples mafia, in the grotty suburb of Scampia 10 years ago. Killers, drug dealers and bent politicians are its dramatis personae. Marco D’Amore plays Ciro, pushy right-hand man of the clan’s godfather, who grabs power when the boss is imprisoned.

The shoot was complicated, involving long negotiations with community activists – but no deals, the makers say, with local mobsters. Scampia is a world away from the fading baroque splendour of Naples, a zone of alienating motorways and crumbling 1960s housing estates.

The greatest Italian crime series is:

Inspector Montalbano? Inspector De Luca? Young Montalbano? Romanzo Criminale?

Tell us your opinion in the comment box below… 

The authenticity included having the largely unknown local cast of actors speaking in thick Neapolitan dialect, which other Italians struggle to make sense of, but which paid off, in that the series was still a ratings success.

Sky Atlantic is certainly delighted to have it. Julia Barry, Channel Director, says, ‘Following on the success of Sky Atlantic’s first bi-lingual drama The Tunnel, we’re thrilled to announce the acquisition of the channel’s first foreign language series. With cinematic scale and a gripping tale of conflict, loyalty and power, Gomorrah is a perfect addition to Sky Atlantic.’

Gomorrah will hit Sky Atlantic in August.

Also check out…

Stefano Sollima talks about Romanzo Criminale
Hollywood Reporter on Gomorrah
Romanzo Criminale — Killer 50

Follow @crimetimeprev

%d bloggers like this: