Eye For Film >> Movies >> Murder Investigation Team (2003) Film Review
At first, the CSI formula appears deliberate - the pre-credits discovery of a body, the arrival of the forensic team, the no-nonsense approach of the professionals, the lack of any private life - and yet this is London, not Las Vegas, which means a sexy showbiz gloss does not apply. None of these women will be wearing high-heeled boots on the job, nor spending hours with a personal trainer. Even the pathologist is an ordinary bloke.
The starring roles are taken by Samantha Spiro and Lindsey Coulson, neither young, slim nor destined for a centrefold. DI Vivien Friend (Spiro) is the Helen Mirren of the piece, excluding Jane Tennison's out-of-office shenanigans. She's the boss and makes sure everyone knows it. Her expression is pained, quizzical and defensive, as if expecting a tirade of criticism at every turn. Determined to provide a firm stamp of leadership, she appears closed, insecure and isolated.
DS Rosie MacManus (Coulson), two rungs down in the hierarchy, has children of her own, although you never see them, and another life outside the pressure-cooked hot house of MIT. She has a sense of humour and a strong streak of humanity, which means she gives her emotions air every now and again, causing friction with The Gov.
The episodes are similar only in the determination of Friend's team to solve the crimes, which are never simple, in spite of first impressions, and liable to provide surprising revelations. The writing is of the highest standard, as is the acting. In the oak carved tradition of understatement - something the posers at CSI would never understand - the producers have taken risks in avoiding Cagney and Lacey's buddy-bonding style for a more acerbic, edgy feel that might turn off first time viewers, while building an honest environment for future aficionados.
The cases are often complex and the series becomes a collection of intricate whodunits, involving racism, paedophilia, drugs, fraud, necrophilia, sexual abuse, prostitution, illegal immigrants and plain old-fashioned murder. The courage of their convictions pays off and by Episode 4 all reservations about the team's staying power evaporates.
It has legs; it has heart; it has commitment. You can't ask for more.Reviewed on: 23 Nov 2004