The first two in an 8 episode crime drama about a wrongful conviction premiered on January 10 on Apple TV+
Story: A follow-up on an anonymous call about domestic violence leads Detective Sergeant June Lenker (Cush Jumbo) to investigate a potential wrongful conviction, much to the displeasure of the investigating officer who’d closed the case back in the day, Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty (Peter Capaldi). New information that an innocent man maybe in prison doing 24 years for murder is of no interest to Hegarty; as far as he’s concerned, he’s got the perp and a confession too.
Review: British investigative dramas usually follow a winsome formula – great story-telling in the hands of a stellar cast, spread across 6-8 episodes only. The first impression one gets of the two episodes of the new Brit crime drama that’ve dropped on Apple TV+ is that the formula’s at work here too. Dr Who star Peter Capaldi and The Good Fight’s Cush Jumbo lead this investigative procedural – one a hardened veteran and the other a relative rookie. At the heart of Criminal Record is an anonymous call to the police from an unnamed victim of domestic abuse, fearful for her life, after her boyfriend threatens to kill her with apparently the same knife he used to murder an earlier girlfriend, a crime for which another man is in jail.
The crime in question, the murder of Adelaide Burrows in 2012, had received a lot of attention back in the day, what with her then boyfriend, Errol Mathis (Tom Moutchi), taking the rap for it, although the murder weapon was never recovered. Although her boss doesn’t see much merit in the tip off, the fact that the caller knew about the exact duration of the sentence Mathis got and where he was serving it, piques Lenker’s interest and she decides to go poking around. As a black woman cop in a largely white department, her gut tells her that Mathis, also a black man, could have been a victim of racial prejudice. But was it really?
These are still early days in the 8 episode show, which will now have weekly episode drops every Wednesday. But what’s clear is that Hegarty is not going to make things easy for Lenker and she is not ready to back away from this fight. Hell, she even tries to physically tackle a violent and much bigger man in a moving elevator. Why is Hegarty hell-bent on covering up a potential miscarriage of justice? Is he really the big bad villain this tale? There are a lot of questions one is likely to have at the end of the two episodes that came out today. Criminal Record is, no doubt, off to a good start; it’s intriguing and leaves you wanting more.
Verdict: If you are a sucker for police procedurals, especially of the British variety, Criminal Records looks like a good addition to that long list of must-watch series’ out there.