The Three Strike Rule: “Rogue,” “Broadchurch”

Written by Television, The Three Strike Rule, TV on DVD

“True Detective” may be off the air for a year, but there are plenty off dark, obsessive cops to fill the void. Check out “Rogue” and “Broadchurch” to fill that void in your psyche.

rogue-season-one-dvd-91vtdnmxgnl-sl1500-jpg-6425ee31d4c44244Still going through True Detective withdrawal? Let me suggest a couple of alternative detective series that should give you a healthy dose of thrills and nail biting moments.

Thandie Newton (Crash) stars in Rogue, an cop drama that airs in the U.S. on DirecTV’s Audience Network. Newton plays Grace, a deep undercover detective who’s infiltrated an Oakland-based gang run by Jimmy Laszlo (Marton Csokas). Grace has been working Jimmy’s crew long enough that when she disappears for long periods, no one questions where she’s been. Of course, where she’s been is spending time with her patient husband, Tom (Kavan Smith) and their two children.

All is not well in her home life, though. Grace’s daughter is resentful, having to grow up without a mother during her adolescence, and her son desperately misses his mother. Rogue does a nice job of role reversal of the negligent cop and the family that gets left in the wake of that cop’s messed-up life. Typically, it’s a man who’s undercover and his wife and family that takes the hit. That Rogue‘s main character is a driven, obsessive woman / mother creates a unique dynamic and energy.

Grace’s life falls apart when her son gets caught in the crossfire of a gang-like hit. Regret, guilt and anger wash over her and it’s all she can do to keep from drowning. Like many a cop in crime fiction, she decides to use her connections to track down her son’s killer. When ballistics trace the bullet back to Jimmy and his crew, Grace disobeys her superiors and goes rogue, returning to undercover work. However, in a fantastic- holy shit moment,-Jimmy finds art Grace’s real identity… in the second episode! From that moment on, Grace must convince Tommy that she’s not out to bring him down, but only to find her son’s killer. Furthermore, she believes the killer is also trying to take him out. Jimmy must decide whether he can trust her, use her for information, or put a bullet in her head.

Rogue moves along at an accelerated pace, keeping the plot moving nicely, even when the action slows for characters to make love, or screw like animals. Rogue definitely carries its cable badge with pride, with an abundance of “f” bombs, “shits,” Newton’s breasts and occasional shots of male co-star packages. And that’s just in the first couple of hours! Nevertheless, the tension is wound tight, with Grace walking the edge and never knowing for sure where she stands with Jimmy, her fellow cops, or her family.

Newton carries the show with ease, many from badass rogue cop to grieving mother with ease. It’s a gutsy role and she owns it. The supporting cast is equally great. Csokas is strong as Jimmy, Ian Hart makes a fine slimy detective, and when Martin Donovan joins the cast, the acting is brought up another notch. Joshua Sasse as Jimmy’s flashy son, Alec, and Leah Gibson as Alec’s wife also make for an interesting on screen couple.

While some of the production values of the show were a little low budget, the producers make the most of what money they have to work with. Shooting in Canada, they do a good job of faking California. Season one of Rogue is available now on DVD and well worth your time. Season 2 premieres in mid-April.

broadchurchDVDBroadchurch aired on BBC America last year and it proved to be one of the most heart wrenching and gripping eight hours of television in recent memory. David Tennant (one of the Dr. Whos) and Olivia Colman starred as mismatched homicide detectives investigating the murder of a prepubescent boy in the Dorset, England seaside town of Broadchurch. Colman portrays Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, a good, honest woman who is up for a promotion to Detective Inspector. However, she’s passed over when the murder of a young boy occurs in her small city. The man who gets her job is the obsessive, angry and physically impaired Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (Tennant). Hardy, all business, is bitter about getting assigned to a remote seaside location. Making matters worse, the case of the dead boy, Danny Latimer, stirs up memories of a botched case he handled years earlier. He’s determined to make sure that this murder is solved properly, even if it kills him.

Since Broadchurch is such a small town, one where everyone knows everyone else’s business, the death of Danny is felt by all. But Ellie has a deeper connection than most: Danny was best friends with her son. Thus we see how the boy’s murder bears down on her small family.

As the case spreads out over the first season’s eight episodes, we also meet Danny’s family and suffer with them as they grieve the loss of their boy. Jodie Whittaker, as Danny’s mom, Beth, and Andrew Buchan, as Danny’s father, Mark, are both exceptional. You will find yourself breaking down in tears as Beth and Mark try to come to terms with Danny’s death. The death of a child is never easy; Beth and Mark struggle not only with the loss of their son, but the secrets his death brings to the surface of their struggling marriage.

We also witness how the entire town of Broadchurch reacts and how easily suspicions are tossed from one person to the next like a beach ball.  Meanwhile, the media begins to infiltrate Broadchurch, digging up the dirt on everyone from the local newspaper vendor, to the mysterious woman who resides in the trailer right next to the one where Danny may have been murdered. The mystery of Danny’s death is a well-kept secret that leads to a devastating final hour. No one in the town of Broadchurch will ever be the same. How the producers plan on continuing the show into a second season is a mystery to me. Season one was perfect and if they wanted to end it all after episode eight, that would have been fine.

Tennant and Colman are a formidable pair. She’s grounds the series with humanity and emotion, while he’s allowed to go off on strange tangents and act like an obsessed madman, something you True Detective fans should appreciate. The first season is available on DVD and I would suggest watching it before a) BBC America does their second season and b) FOX premieres their Americanized version, also starring Tennant. I wonder if he’ll use his thick accent for U.S. audiences. Doubtful.