DCI Banks has come back to television with its third full series and it finds the man a little bit kerfluffled. Poor Alan is in love with DS Annie Cabbot, but he just cannot find a way to express it. He could say it, but that would be a little bit presumptuous, especially as he is her commanding officer. They have gone on dates, sort of, and he has told her that he likes her, sort of. The problem is spending time together outside of work, after spending all day together that gets a little tricky and more often than not, he just puts his foot in his mouth when trying to find the right words to say. Also, they have to deal with murders and crime as it rears its head as they are police officers as well as the frame-up of one of their own, DI Helen Morton.
Much like the previous series, the current one was broken up into three stories of two episodes each. The first details the search for a missing boy and a connection to a large amount of drugs where nothing is as it seems. The second is about the murder of a journalist that ties into another murder that took place some thirty years previous and both having to do with the members of a defunct band. The third and final chapters deal with the murder of a DJ who is tied to a long-time criminal, the criminal’s assistant Jaff, and Alan’s daughter Tracy. At the same time, DI Morton, who was investigating the inciting incident for the last case is on the verge of losing her job unless she can somehow exonerate herself.
Starring Stephen Tompkinson as Alan Banks, it is a big departure from his role on Wild At Heart but one that suits him perfectly. As the music-loving Detective Chief Inspector, he also takes his job quite seriously and sometimes personally as well. Banks cannot stand the thought of injustice and Tompkinson’s performance is superb as the almost hard-boiled detective. He is a little disconcerting when showing that steely reserve towards criminals, knowing you would never want to be on the end of that gaze. He also has those moments when one of his friends or his team are in need and that exterior melts and his heart shines through. More often than not, he is just a normal guy who happens to be a good cop, simply one who believes in the truths of right and wrong. The show would definitely not be what it is without the man.
The best episodes of the series were the third and fourth making up the second story entitled Piece of My Heart as it not only detailed a murder, but multiple murders and delved further into Alan’s personal life. We get to see him try and woo Andrea Lowe’s character DS Annie Cabbot, as well as delve into his deep love of music. It is also fascinating to see that his hobby will actually be able to help him in the current case and to see him act almost giddy because of it, though it might be too strong a word. Almost. Of course the best scenes always involve him and Lowe due to the tension they create between them. Seeing him act nervous around her is delightful in a way as he is always so in control of his life in every aspect. For her to unnerve him so is a nice little bit of character development that was quite unexpected, but welcome.
Caroline Catz is a boon to the show as the no-nonsense DI Helen Morton. Her character is a little abrupt at times, often making her co-workers uncomfortable around her, but it is exactly what is needed in the show to make it a little more well-rounded than it is. It is always good to see Jack Deam of Shameless fame, though his parts seemed to be a lot smaller this year than they were on previous series. A good supporting cast is always essential to any show or film and ITV has surrounded the leads with a most exceptional one. In this program, they not only serve as the police force, but as family to Banks, who rarely sees his own, much less talks about them. Without them, he would not be who he is and his loyalty to them runs deep.
Thankfully, when the show ended its run this year, it did so on a happy note. As of the moment, it has not been renewed so if this were to be its finale, it ended right. But, should it come back, the show has also been left open so that it might explore more of Banks’ life and those of his comrades. There are a lot of procedurals being produced right now, both in North America and in Britain, but when done right, there is always room for more. DCI Banks is one of them and it is captivating television.