TV Review: Cuffs Episodes 5-8

“Are you one of those? They’re everywhere in Brighton aren’t they.
‘Yeah, not so many in Halifax though, cos of the weather’”

I really enjoyed the opening half of new BBC police drama Cuffs and so whacked up a review of those four episodes whilst they were still watchable on the iPlayer. The show has now finished its run, 8 episodes being the default setting for a ‘long’ series here in the UK, and whilst it may have lost a little of the fast-paced energy that characterised its arrival, its bevy of boisterous characters ensured I was fully engaged right through to the end of the last episode.

With such a large ensemble making up the South Sussex team, Cuffs did sometimes struggle in giving each of them a fair crack of the whip. For me, it was Amanda Abbington’s Jo who got the shortest end of the stick, too much of her screen-time, especially early on, being taken up with the fallout of her illicit affair instead of showing her as the more than capable police officer we finally saw in the latter episodes.

The double act of Jacob Ifan’s rookie cop Vickers and Ashley Walter’s tutor constable Draper fell a little by the wayside which was a shame as they provided a great entry point into the world of the show, with its blend of professional and personal lives. Both men were primarily reduced to the latter, the soapiness of the problematic father/son relationship in the Vickers household being a disappointment, the twist of Draper’s son handled much better.

So where the show prospered was in highlighting other characters – Eleanor Matsuura’s Donna getting probably the strongest story in Episode 7 in a highly dramatic and classic rise and fall sequence of events, Alex Carter’s cheeky chappie Lino getting a proper love interest in the properly fantastic Denise Gough, and Paul Ready’s marvellously complex DI Kane continuing to struggle manfully with his desires and his daddy issues.

And the blend of smaller cases versus the long-running issues was skilfully handled – I loved the randomer side of things like using the PA system in the greenhouse, the vicious magpie-eating seagulls and the tipsy pensioners, but the domestic violence storyline that stretched over multiple episodes was also affectingly portrayed. I’m not sure how Cuffs has done ratings-wise but I’d definitely like to see Julie Gearey’s show return for another series, not least for showcasing such a brilliant cast.

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