Posted: 01/27/2011



by Del Harvey

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Single Handed is the story of a lone cop’s challenges in policing an isolated area of Western Ireland. Filmed in Connemara, the program shows us some of the most beautiful coastal areas in Ireland. Actor Owen McDonnell’s Sergeant Jack Driscoll investigates and solves different crimes which occur on his turf. Just transferred to the area from Dublin and much more challenging work, Driscoll soon discovers the biggest difference between city and country police - it’s all about who you know. Fortunately, he knows his new patch well, having grown up there. And he isn’t afraid to serve the rural community single-handed, which mostly means confronting corruption, dark secrets and complicated family affairs.

The tales of Garda Síochána, Sergeant Jack Driscoll have thus far consisted of three two-episode, single-story series which originally aired - one each on consecutive nights - in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Season 4, comprising six episodes, aired on RTÉ One in November 2010. The following are breakdowns of the episodes.

In the first series, titled Home, Sergeant Driscoll returns to his home town from Dublin, to take his retiring father’s place. Sergeant Gerry Driscoll (Ian McElhinney) was well-known among the locals, and Jack soon realizes that his father was involved in some sinister developments. As if that weren’t bad enough, Jack must also investigate the mysterious death of a young eastern European woman, and by the end of the episode he has had sex with another woman whom he later finds is his his half-sister.

In the next episode, The Stolen Child, Sergeant Driscoll must search for a kidnapped toddler from a dysfunctional family background. There are also two subplots involving a teacher suspected to be a pedophile and the appearance of Driscoll’s father at a tribunal, the latter echoing the factual events of the long-running Morris Tribunal. Actors such as Ian McElhinney, in the role of corrupt garda, and Charlene McKenna, in the role of distraught mother, received praise following the second series.

In the third episode, The Drowning Man, Sergeant Driscoll receives a late-night phone call informing him that a young man is drowning. Jack finds this is connected with an undercover anti-drug operation against a wealthy businessman with connections to the IRA, a mole and Sergeant Driscoll’s encounter with his former lover, Maura Dooley (Marcella Plunkett). Pádraic Delaney features in the role of Detective Garda Sergeant Michael Casey, an undercover agent.

The series is extremely engrossing and I found myself wishing I’d had the other episodes to watch as soon as I had finished the third. The acting and production are some of the best, certainly much higher quality than most programs produced in the States, and the stories are some of the best you could hope for in a crime series.

Check out this series, available February 1, 2011, from Acorn Media.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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