The Force Review (Channel 4)

Now I enjoy a good police documentary. Not that I’m a big fan of the police you understand, or some kind of voyeuristic justice-fetishist who rubs his hands at the first sign of a wielded truncheon. No. I just like watching people get arrested in their underwear in front of a camera crew and 16 unformed officers who, at four in the morning, have just made kindling out of their front door.

Watching bewildered suspects attempt to blag the 5 ounces of coke on their coffee table is comedy gold!

“s’not mine”

So imagine my bewilderment last night when I tuned into the first episode of The Force (Channel 4); a new three-part series that follows Hampshire Constabulary working their investigations. Anticipating a Bravo-esque police-pantomine show, it soon became apparent that those juvenile expectations weren’t going to be met.

Directed by BATFA winner Patrick Forbes, The Force is a sombre, calculated affair. In the first few minutes, we are taken to Basingstoke and full-on launched into a grisly murder investigation headed up by Detective Chief Inspector Jason Hogg (pictured).

The details of the murder are brutally frank; the badly-burnt body of a female, killed and stuffed into a suitcase is found on a rural Hampshire backroad. Unable to even identify the body, Hogg and his crack-pot team of forensic experts are faced with a seemingly impossible task of ascertaining a motive and catching the culprit.

No dramatic house raids, car chases or topsy-turvy arrests in the street, then.

Nonetheless, The Force proved enthralling viewing as piece by piece, phone call by phone call, Hogg and Co. built their case; a car registration plate here, an address found there. The slow process of gathering evidence illustrated in full, arduous glory.

The camera work and split-screen editing was excellent, working with the ominously sparse Jazz sounds to add dynamism to some otherwise static and dry scenes. What was most interesting though, wasn’t the Grisom-like collection of DNA from the crime scene, nor the electrostatic gathering of dust from the suspects wooden floor…

It was how familiar, as an office worker myself, detective work looked. It seemed bland, familiar and governed by process. There were no butterfly dissections or sexy mixed-race assistants. Just Microsoft Word and rice krispy squares.

In all, an excellent documentary that whilst macabre and chilling, also captured the tedious nature of police work.

Watch it here:

The Force




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