The Commander – Set 1
by Del Harvey
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Lynda La Plante’s latest BBC program to hit the DVD shelves is a bit of a departure from the gritty police procedural work she has shown such expertise with in the much-loved Prime Suspect series and more recently in Trial & Retribution. I’m a big fan of both of those series, but I won’t be watching any further episodes of The Commander. Not that they’re bad; more like they are far too mainstream TV for my tastes. But that appeals to many, so to those of you who enjoy such things, do read on.
Like her earlier efforts, The Commander’s main character is a female cop, and this time she’s the head of an elite Murder Review Team and the highest ranking woman officer in New Scotland Yard. Clare Blake plays the titular Commander with a mixture of resolve and weakness which many will be drawn to. Amanda Burton is the actress portraying Clare, and she’s quite capable and a good replacement for those La Plante fans who adored Dame Helen Mirren as Jane Tennyson in the Prime Suspect series and who want to see more shows about a woman older than 40 with a head on her shoulders and possessing self-determination. And, like Prime Suspect, Clare is beset by good old boys in blue at every turn, so there is plenty of internal politicking threatening her existence in this series. In fact, those elements provided most of the real excitement for me, anyway.
Her team includes Matthew Marsh (MI-5) as DCI Hedges and Poppy Miller (Attachments) as Blake’s smart young protégé, DCI Carol Browning. Guest stars in Set 1 include Hugh Bonneville (Iris and more recently, HBO’s Five Days), David Patrick O’Hara (Braveheart), Saskia Reeves (Dune), Yorick van Wageningen (The New World), and Nickolas Grace (Robin of Sherwood).
The Commander – Set 1 includes the first four episodes (“Entrapment,” “Virus,” “Blackdog” and “Blacklight”), which are approximately 140 minutes each. The series premiered in the U.K. in February 2003 and new episodes are still in production.
Special Features: Interview with star Amanda Burton, character retrospective with creator Lynda La Plante, supporting cast featurette, and biographies of Amanda Burton and Lynda La Plante.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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