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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Prime Suspect 1973/Tennison: Excellent

My wife and I binged Prime Suspect Tennison on Amazon Prime - originally Prime Suspect 1973 which is when this story of the young Tennison, just beginning her police career, takes place.  The series has received some criticism for not measuring up to Prime Suspect in several ways.  I disagree (my wife does, as well).

Of course Stefanie Martini as the young Tennison is not as good as Helen Mirren, who defined the brilliant older role.  But who would be?  I doubt that even a young Helen Mirren, if she could be brought to the future by some time travel magic to play this role, would be as accomplished as her older self.

And, indeed, the part called for a less accomplished performance, since Tennison was just finding herself.  And whether or not Martini is also brilliant actress who delivered that performance, or is just less sure of herself, I couldn't say.  All I know is that she was excellent in the part.   As to the plot--

[spoilers follow, in case you haven't seen this yet]

But as to the plot, I thought this series also did a fine job of that.  We need to see how Tennison in 1973 began to become the older Tennison we all know, love, and appreciate.  And I think this series did that in two important ways, both involving DI Bradfield.

First, it's Bradfield who convinces her to lie on behalf of the detective who beat a suspect.  This is a crucial moment in the development of Tennison's persona.  She would never have risen so high in authority had she not learned to play the game.  Her being conflicted between telling the truth and being a team player, and deciding to go with the team, was played out perfectly,

Second,  Bradfield's death explains an awful lot about the older Tennison's outlook on life.  She lost someone she loved, and found out he was married with kids in the bargain.  Something like that is bound to harden anyone, and endow them with some degree of live for today.

So, good job 1973/Tennison, and I look forward to more (even though it's been "confirmed" that there won't be a second series).


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