Two new crime series made their bow on TV last night, BBC1 premiered The Interceptor, a series i of eight, written by Tony Saint, previously known for the unforgivable Long Road to Finchley, and ITV Encore gave us the ten-part Swedish drama Jordskott, which was a considerable hit in its home country when it was shown early this year.
The Interceptor is about Ash, a HMRC agent who despairs of ever catching a major drugs baron rather than small-fry pushers and mules. After the capture of one of the latter leads to disastrous consequences, Ash is recruited by a mysterious cross-over unit - called, hideously, UNIT - which is also after the Mr Bigs, mainly by listening in to their burner phones.
Essentially, its The Wire but lacking anything like the characterisation or internal conflict. The conflict here is that Ash likes putting himself in danger while his wife (a thus far badly under-served Jo Joyner) laments. That said, it motors along nicely and the casting has taken one or two risks. Ash is a mainstream TV breakthrough for O-T Fagbenle, previously perhaps best known for Walter's War, and Ewan Stewart (also in Walter's War) seems to offer a lot of potential as the head of UNIT. Otherwise, though, it's Lorraine Ashbourne and Paul Kaye and Trevor Eve like it always is. Who does casting for the BBC and can they please stop?
Jordskott, on the other hand, is ITV Encore's bid for respectability. They have spent money acquiring it and SVT spent money making it. We don't see many Swedish TV series so it stands to reason we cannot moan about the same old faces.
Eva is a siege negotiator in Stockholm - hence the very eye-catching teaser - who has to go home to her small hometown when her father tops himself. Papa was a local industrialist and has probably left Eva shares as well as his mansion. But Papa and Eva hadn't spoken for years and there is a much bigger reason why Eva left - the mysterious disappearance of her daughter. Now, coincidentally, a boy of the same age is missing. Eva is inevitably drawn in - atypically, the local fizz don't try to exclude her. Then, stunningly, Eva almost runs down a shabby figure by the road in the forest - and the almost-victim turns out to (possibly) be her missing daughter Josefine ... perhaps.
So we can see much more subtle forces at work than have been allowed anywhere near The Interceptor. Every character in Jordskott is conflicted, everyone including Eva is under a level of suspicion. We know how The Interceptor is going to pan out. We can only guess about Jordskott.