Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I was always struck by the difference between UK and US cop shows. The US gave us Rockford Files, Streets of SanFranciso and Magnum, shows with improbable detectives who always seemed to be fishing dead bodies out of the swimming pools of film producers. In the UK, we had Z cars, Softly Softly and Van der Valk in which rather boring detectives solved not very dangerous crimes set in Midlands Motels.
Sadly, the bad old days seem to be returning; where the US makes high quality drama on a decent production budget and the UK makes tawdry, low budget pap. Take the case of Law & Order, a US import now on Season 19. A high-quality show with rounded characters investigating interesting crimes.
Detectives Lupo and Bernard investigate the murder of a television reporter who was involved in a love triangle with one of her co-workers.
By contrast here is a UK episode from the recent spin-off
A 13-year-old boy is found kicked to death at Euston rail station. DSS Ronnie Brooks and Matt Devlin discover that the boy’s mother is a reformed drug-addict whose boyfriend is suspected of physically abusing her son.
Now I like social realism as much as anyone but frankly I like a grain or two of escapism with my TV. So maybe it’s time for UK producers to develop escapist tosh like Dynasty rather than Triangle.