Cast: Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe, Caroline Catz, Jack Deam
DCI Banks is a British crime procedural. It’s an adaptation of Peter Robinson’s Alan Banks novels. It follows the team of Yorkshire Police who solve brutal murders involving mysterious characters. I began watching DCI Banks when I was in the spree of watching all British cop shows. DCI Banks is not an extraordinary show. It doesn’t have great thrilling or chilling moments. There are no spectacular action sequences or heart racing shoot outs. It’s mostly kept very simple, with chasing of leads, answering all the opened questions and closing all the loose ends. In spite of this show not making up to my top 5 or even top 10 crime procedurals on television today, there is something about this show which makes me, as a viewer, not to miss a single episode. The cases are interesting and relevant. The murders aren’t out-of-the-mind murders but kept very realistic. The procedure part is also kept very simple and natural with no extravagant breakthroughs. It’s a consistent show which sticks to the story and doesn’t experiment much.
DCI Banks, as the title suggest, is the central character of the story. Alan Banks runs a team of dynamic characters who perform their assigned roles perfectly. Played by Stephen Tompkinson, Alan Banks isn’t someone who throws his power around or has a majestic leader appearance. He is a normal middle aged guy who works hard to bring justice to the family of the deceased. As is the case with most of the cop shows, his personal life is a mess most of the times. He has a daughter who makes appearances randomly. Somewhere, I felt, the show is dull compared to the other shows because the central character here, Banks, isn’t very interesting. There aren’t many cases which test Banks on a personal or professional level. Hence, the connection to the character, to feel the empathy and sympathy for him goes missing. Hence even his hard earned success can’t be cherished much. To think on a completely different level, may be it’s Tompkinson who has made Banks dull. His voice modulation is perfect but his expression of rage comes out really weird. He has to work on his menacing looks.
The supporting characters include- DI Annie Cabbot (Lowe) and DI Helen Morton (Catz). Annie is the first to enter the team and has/had a relationship with Banks on a personal level too, but it’s not dealt with much drama. The entry of Helen (Season 2) into the team brings in a lot of interest as her style of work is completely different to Banks’ style. These two ladies have a silent war going on when they begin to work together, but they resolve it very maturely. Apart from that we have DC Ken Blackstone (Deam), whose task is to excavate all the details and information in connection to the case. He also does some field work, but not a lot is shown about him. A good actor like Deam is being wasted in this show.
The show seemed fresh and energetic in the first two seasons but now I feel it lacks the excitement. It could be because the characters are all middle aged and hence there are no racing or running around. Yet, there is definitely something missing on the interest factor. I feel the team is still not working as a team. They still look like separate individuals working together. Realistically, it might not be possible, but as a show, to help the viewers connect to the show and the characters, there have to be episodes which put the team under some kind of a test of trust, where the team backs up each other. There have been very very few episodes which showed that.
Moving on to the cases, the cases are pretty solid. Very interesting characters are introduced and are played extremely well by the guest stars. The clues are gradually brought up and the connections are smoothly made. Crime scene, meeting the family, team discussions- all are done pretty sensitively. The cases are the reason why the show keeps ticking. Else, with such sober characters, the show doesn’t have a chance.
Picturesquely, the show is shot beautifully. The background score is pretty good too, but not always noticeable.
DCI Banks is a good show and can be watched for time pass. Season 6 is currently on. Don’t expect edge of the seat moments or mind blowing revelations. Just sit back, relax, watch it, and switch it off.