Vigil: A new type of tense crime drama from Britain

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Patterson Joseph as Newsom and Suran Jones as Amy Silva in Vigil.Starz / Crave . courtesy of

The main item under review this weekend is one of those shows that garnered a flurry of attention. In this case, “Where’s the police procedural?” About 25 percent of TVs across traditional, cable and streaming services feature a crime drama featuring police officers. They follow a pattern. Often a rogue officer is doing the right thing but is reined in or fired by the boss.


As the world changes and our perceptions of police shift toward scrutiny of bias, ineptitude and systemic discrimination, the old formats do not resonate so well. The trick is to reorganize the police process so that it is more involved in the form of drama.

procession (Starting on Sunday, Starz/Crave, 9 p.m.) Uses a cool trick – a setting so claustrophobic you’re actually attracted to. The BBC series, a huge hit when it first aired in Britain, was mostly set on a nuclear submarine. HMS Vigilance. Tight quarters for murder investigations and yes, you feel like you’re stuck in there with the characters.

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The nuclear-armed sub is deep in the waters somewhere off the coast of Scotland and no one knows it is there. No one should know. On the surface, a fishing boat is doing its business and the crew believes there is a large stock of fish below. They try to do their job. But it’s not a swarm of fish, it’s a sub and there’s no good end to this encounter for a fishing boat. Below, is an argument about what to do. An officer who says the deputy must help is dismissed. The officer is soon found dead. Was he the drug addict some say he was? There should be an investigation, but the police must come to the sub because it is on a secret mission.

Rose Leslie as Kirsten Longacre in Vigil.Starz / Crave . courtesy of

Officer Amy Silva (Suran Jones) jogs in Glasgow when called to meet top Navy observers. “How are you in confined spaces?” Very bad question. What happens when Silva gets to the sub and starts work is well done. The depiction of an intense, hidden workplace has a real impact. You know what you’ve got here is essentially old-fashioned whodnit, but the setting is unique and gaudy. Silva cannot actually communicate with the outside world, but can receive messages in code. Helping him out, on dry land, is Officer Kirsten Longcrew (Rose Leslie) who knows Silva very well.

Without giving too much away, let’s say that with 140 men and eight women on this submarine, something had been rotting for so long. On shore, Longcrew learns that the dead man had an affair with a man the Navy would not accept, and that the Navy is all about secrecy and keeping its missions anonymous. little wonder procession It was a huge success with audiences in the UK. The confined space aspect is used to amazing effect, the characters are engaging and, you know, if you even throw in a Russian submarine, you have a killer, six-part thriller.

Also broadcast/streaming this weekend

In Great Performance: Unforgettable With Love – Natalie Cole, Cole sings material from the Grammy-winning album Unforgettable, which features songs from the 1940s and early 1950s by her late father, Nat King Cole.PBS

Fantastic performance: Unforgettable with Love – Natalie Cole (Sundays, PBS, 8 p.m.) Yours is a classy, ​​comfy treat. It has been on before but gets to be seen again and again. Cole sings material from Grammy-winning album Unforgettable, including songs sung by her late father, Nat King Cole, in the 1940s and early 1950s soft, autumn leaves, smile, avalon And paper Moon, Filmed in an elegant supper club-like setting, there is sometimes a full orchestra and sometimes a mini-combo, and the technique is used to give the impression of her father playing as her accompanist.

harlem (Stream on Amazon Prime Video from Friday) is a new comedy series about four black female friends living in New York City, who are in their early 20s. On early evidence, it is sophisticated but light-hearted fun and features several strapping lads as objects of desire.

Shonika Shandai as Angie in Harlem.Sarah Schatz/Amazon Studios

Finally, gig is up (Sunday, Documentary Channel, 9 p.m.) A disturbing look at the gig economy on four continents. This is a punchy and anger-provoking doc by Shannon Walsh, who traveled widely (pre-Covid) to look into the condition of Uber drivers, food-delivery workers, and especially Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. Amazon describes the area as “a crowdsourcing website for businesses that hire remotely located ‘crowdworkers’ to perform discrete on-demand tasks that computers are currently unable to do.” It is soul destroying work. And while these gig-economy jobs are a lifeline for some, the ubiquity of freelance gig-workers trying to please algorithms, not human owners, is a dangerous development. As one observer here puts it, for many workers, soon, “the Middle Ages will look like heaven.”

The Gig Is Up exposes the real costs of the platform economy through the lives of workers around the world for companies including Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo.documentary channel

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