CRIMINAL RECORD Review: Murder, Police, Justice, Doubts

Peter Capaldi and Cush Jumbo do battle in the gripping, moody series, now streaming on Apple TV+.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
CRIMINAL RECORD Review: Murder, Police, Justice, Doubts

Is a convicted prisoner a felon or a victim? Ambiguities run rampant.

Criminal Record
The first two episodes are now streaming on Apple TV+. New episodes will debut weekly, every Wednesday, through February 21. I've seen all eight episodes.

You can read Peter Capaldi's face like a book you will never understand.

In Criminal Record, a new series that debuted globally yesterday on Apple TV+, Capaldi's craggy, deeply-lined face is filmed in peaks and valleys, filled with pockmarks of regret and agonies untold. His eyes focus so brightly that they can bore deeply into one's soul, which is a definite asset for DCI Daniel Hegarty.

Nearing retirement, Hegarty has taken a job as a nighttime driver-for-hire, and his eyes are accustomed to scanning the streets he drives for any signs of a crime being committed. By day, he returns to his role as master of all he surveys in his station, where he is known as a dedicated commander and a dogged investigator, ruthlessly pursuing guilty parties.

In contrast, DS June Lenker (Cush Jumbo) is in the early stages of her career, yet very much wants to do more than push paper, waiting for a proper case to come her way. One day she is assigned to investigate an anonymous phone call that the emergency operator flagged for attention. That leads, eventually, to a frustrating confrontation with Hegarty in which he appears to shut down June and her desire to reopen a murder case from years before, in which the accused confessed, was convicted, and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.

Created by Paul Rutman, who also wrote the first two episodes, the series plays up the ambiguities of the characters as well as the case. Hegarty is single, with an adult daughter. June is married to a psychiatrist, with a young son. Throughout the first episode, Hegarty definitely seems to be hiding something, and his barren home life seems to support that. June, on the other hand, has a mixed-race marriage in which everything seems fine and dandy.

By the end of the second episode, their characters are revealed in greater detail, and ambiguities in their domestic situations and their conduct as police detectives are shown in wider relief. It's all quite involving from an emotional standpoint and also from an intellectual standpoint: how will the mystery be solved?

By the end of the eighth episode, like a good novel, questions are answered in a satisfying manner. Nothing in life is entirely black and white, and Criminal Record knows how to dance in gray.

Criminal Record

  • Paul Rutman
  • Cush Jumbo
  • Peter Capaldi
  • Dionne Brown
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Apple TV+Cush JumboPaul RutmanPeter CapaldiDionne BrownCrimeDramaThriller

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