Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Last Detective

Peter Davison as Dangerous.
Premise:  “Dangerous” Davies (Peter Davison), a detective constable in suburban London, is ridiculed by his peers on the police force. Most of their disdain stems from Davies’ decision to arrest a fellow officer on the eve of retirement. As a result, he often gets what appear to be the most humdrum cases. The only one that recognizes his detecting skills is his alcoholic boss, Detective Inspector Aspinall (Rob Spendlove). Dangerous is estranged from his wife Julie (Emma Amos), who doesn’t understand why her husband is content to remain a DC forever. Dangerous’s best pal, the offbeat, philosophizing Mod (Sean Hughes), holds several unusual jobs throughout the series…such as walking dogs and conducting a door-to-door survey on the sexual habits of senior citizens.

Running Time:  70 minutes (16 episodes); 90-minute pilot film.

Status:  There were four seasons broadcast between 2004 and 2007. They’re available on DVD in the U.S.

Production Notes:  The series was adapted from the four Dangerous Davies novels written by Leslie Thomas, in which the detective first name is never given. The show’s title derives from a character that describes Dangerous as “the last detective, since he was never dispatched on any assignment unless it was very risky or there was no one else to send.” Bernard Cribbins played Dangerous in a 1981 made-for-TV movies Dangerous Davies: The Last Detective. Its plot, like the pilot film for the Peter Davison series, was based on the first of the novels. Prior to playing Dangerous, Peter Davison starred as the fifth Doctor Who (1981-84) and as veterinarian Tristan Farnon in seven seasons of All Creatures Great and Small.

Our Review:  More character study than mystery, The Last Detective is a highly entertaining series thanks to the charming, affable Peter Davison and the funny Sean Hughes as his quirky chum Mod. Some of the plots offer quality mysteries, especially the pilot film in which a routine investigation causes Dangerous to re-open a cold case involving the death of a seventeen-year-old girl. However, it’s the characters and the humor that set The Last Detective apart from other detective shows. We especially like how Dangerous’ relationship with Inspector Aspinall gradually evolves into one of mutual respect as the series progresses. As for the humor, one of the best subplots has Dangerous temporarily moving in with Mod, whose “guest room” turns out to be a closet. It’d be a tight fit for Dangerous alone—but it’s even worse with addition of Dangerous’s St. Bernard.

Our Grade:  B+.

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