I don’t know what it says about me that in these stressful times, I find escape in crime dramas. I only know I’m not alone, as more than a few of my friends have confessed to the same addiction. Admittedly, I‘m a year-round mystery junkie, but in this particular pandemic moment, perhaps watching detectives stalk killers helps put my craving for a haircut in perspective.
Fortunately, I have to look no further than WGBH’s own streaming options for a mother lode of great contemporary crime drama. All of the series featured here are available in their entirety — and, for a couple of them, that’s really saying something.
Silk follows barristers from a criminal law chambers in London, focusing on Martha Costello (Maxine Peake), whose ambition is to become Queen’s Counsel (known as “taking the silk”), as well as her rival, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry-Jones).
Penry-Jones pops up again as the lead in Whitechapel, in which detectives in that London district grapple with murders that replicate historical crimes. DCI Banks, based on Peter Robinson’s acclaimed crime novels, stars Stephen Tompkinson as a driven Yorkshire detective chief inspector who’s nearly the polar opposite of the affable priest played by the actor in his breakout role in Ballykissangel.
But those series are mere appetizers to two long-running shows that offer the mystery fan a massive feast of crime drama: Dalziel and Pascoe, starring Warren Clarke and Colin Buchanan, is based on Reginald Hill’s mysteries (also set in Yorkshire and a personal favorite of mine) and weighs in at a whopping 92 episodes. That’s exceeded only by New Tricks, about a squad of retired London police detectives who investigate cold cases, which ran for an astounding 106 episodes, all of which are available to meet your binging needs.
So what are you waiting for, armchair detectives? These cases won’t crack themselves!