Review: Good Cop
Looking for a nice, cosy drama to see in the colder autumn nights? Then Good Cop isn’t for you. Instead, it has a very similar, grimly lit feel to the Beeb’s other hard-hitting drama at the moment, the fantastic, heart-breaking, sublime masterpiece that is Accused. But, as Thursday’s opening episode showed, there’s still plenty of room for both shows in the TV playground.
The eponymous good cop was John Paul (Warren Brown), who’s left reeling after his partner (Tom Hopper) is killed, largely, it seems, because of John Paul’s do-gooding actions. However, as John Paul returns to the scene of the crime, he comes face-to-face with the murderer (Stephen Graham – how busy has this man been recently? This is his third TV appearance in as many weeks!), and this is a confrontation which leads to John Paul shooting him dead. And, from the end of the episode, it seems that he might want to kill his accomplices too…
It was thus, a fairly straightforward morality tale: all-round good, law-abiding guy is frustrated by injustice and so takes the law in his own hands. But, and I say this not just because of the lighting, there’s something far darker and intriguing about Good Cop that makes it instantly gripping, with the endpoint by no means obvious, the direction of the story changing several times in this episode alone.
Much of the credit for Good Cop’s watchability comes down to the strength of Brown’s performance. Yes, the strength of the writing can’t be ignored, with John Paul being a highly believable character, but it’s because Brown is able to portray him so brilliantly that the show works so well, even if you can’t help thinking that he does always play very similar characters; here, he’s basically a cross between his roles in Luther and Inside Men (on the Luther note, BBC, don’t think we haven’t noticed that the two shows have got identical end credits…) But he is undeniably good at playing this kind of role, and Good Cop testifies that he’s very capable as the lead character, and not just a supporting member.
Admittedly, however, while John Paul is a well-written, rounded character, the way in which the layers of his personality were revealed was a bit heavy-handed; using a cot death case seemed a bit of an extreme way to show his ‘goodness’ – he was selflessly consoling the mother even as his best friend lay dying in hospital! But there were at least signs to show that he isn’t a perfect human being, with an intriguing, perhaps not as obvious as it seems, sub-plot involving a woman named Cassie (Aisling Loftus). Well, perhaps I’m just hoping it’s not as obvious as it seems…
Anyway, heavy-handed or not, it did the job, and he was a character you could really invest in, as was the story, which was tightly plotted and scripted (though a few more dollops of humour wouldn’t go amiss). This opening episode therefore laid some impressive foundations for what will hopefully grow into an even more impressive and memorable series. It was certainly good cop.
Good Cop continues on Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.