|Karla Crome as DS Devlin.|
Running Time: 45 minutes.
Status: The Level aired in September-November 2016 on ITV and made its American debut on Acorn TV on December 12th.
Production Notes: The Level features a number of familiar faces to viewers who watch British television detective series. Amanda Burton, who starred in both Silent Witness and The Commander, plays Frank's wife Cherie. Philip Glenister, who portrayed DCI Gene Hunt in Life on Mars, is on hand as a shady businessman. And Noel Clarke, a detective inspector in the underrated Chasing Shadows, is a detective sergeant teamed with Nancy Devlin. The cast also includes Rob James-Collier (valet Thomas Barrow on Downton Abbey), and Joe Absolom (Al Large on Doc Martin).
Our Review: While the central mystery in The Level is a conventional one, writers Gaby Chiappe (Shetland) and Alexander Perrin transform it into an intriguing puzzler with a series of carefully planned plot twists and turns. The first twist--Devlin being assigned to track down herself--propels the series as the detective tries to find Frank's killer while thwarting her colleagues from discovering her involvement. It's not an original premise (see the 1948 classic film The Big Clock), but it's executed well in The Level. It also holds viewer interest until the third episode when a truly unexpected revelation changes the plot's dynamics. The writers also succeed in creating a mélange of shadowy characters, almost anyone of which could be a villain (though one of Devlin's colleagues is so obviously bad that we concluded he must be a good guy). Karla Crome is adequate in the lead role, though her character is fairly one-note and it's hard to imagine a series being built around her.