A Conversation for Great Cop Shows

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 1

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

As a once avid viewer of The Bill, I can safely say that it was once one of the best - if not *the* best Cop Shows on the box. In a TV world drowning in 'Detective' Dramas (not all of them bad, Morse was good), The Bill portrayed the everyday work of an inner city nick, featuring the work of both the Uniformed 'Plods' and the Brains Department a.k.a. CID.

The situations the characters dealt with moved from the shocking to the banal with consummate ease, taking in the yukky, the amusing and the downright weird on the way. It was all enclosed in self-contained stories that showed an outcome, be it positive, negative or inconclusive. Sometimes they got their man, sometimes they didn't. Sometimes they never really knew what had happened. There was always a sense of realism to it. Better still, whatever was done, police procedure was always adhered to unless there was a very, very good reason dramatically not to do so.

Most importantly of all, the action revolved around the story, not the characters themselves. We weren't subjected to the awesome tedium of their private lives - unless that had some form of impact on their professional work (and then much of it was left to the imagination of the viewer). They were ordinary folk of all ages and all types - and they were completely human in the way they were portrayed.

The crimes they dealt with ranged right through from bag snatching to murder, but the majority of events were couched in 'reality' in that the rarer crimes appeared rarely, whilst the commoner ones were dealt with in all kinds of different guises. There was no sensationalism, just the gritty day to day work of police officers. They did their jobs as best they could in a world that didn't appreciate them all that much. They put their lives on the line (and lost them now and again) and put up with the management spiel that came down the line via the Top Brass. They messed up from time to time (and played the system a bit as well), and they had to face the consequences of that.

Alas, it was not to last. Someone, somewhere, decreed that ratings were falling (the great god Ratings!) and so the show needed a 'revamp' (to appease the great god Ratings). At first, this wasn't too intrusive, though it tended to be rather tiresome when the affairs begun between officers spilled out of the police station and into bedrooms. The affairs themselves weren't the problem, after all it's inevitable that people working together on a daily basis as a big group are going to end up seeing each other 'after hours' in some way or other. The real irritation was the time wasted with them actually 'seeing each other after hours'. The impact of the affairs on the professional lives of the 'lovers' and the rest of the team would have been quite enough, thank you very much.

The great god Ratings, however, appears to have demanded even more, and now The Bill has sold its soul to the allied demigod known as 'Soap'. The emphasis has shifted from story telling to character presentation instead, and has taken all the quality away with it. I no longer watch, but keep a vague eye on the programme listings to see what else can possibly happen (Alien invasion from the Planet Zog? Why not? They seem to have had everything else!). Actually sitting through it would be a painful experience remembering what this show used to be.

Why this need to turn a good drama into yet another soap (And a bad one, at that!)? Isn't there enough already? Apparently not.

Please call it something else - Anything else. Either that or put it out of its misery and let us see repeats of it as it used to be (i.e. good).

I feel a bit better for that - thank you for putting up with my rant...

smiley - dog

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 2


Couldn't agree more.
When it changed from half-an-hour to an hour, British TV lost a gem.

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 3

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Funny. One of the Barristers we use regularly used to be a script consultant for the Bill. he resigned after the first three series because it was already becoming a work of utter fantasy.

I have to say, as somene who has spent 15 years in the Law and order business, I've *never* seen anything in the Bill that remotelyty resembled real life, and neither have any of the police officers I've laughed with about it.

smiley - shark

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 4

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

Oh well. Very sheltered, me. I'm not pretending that I thought it was a documentary or anything, just that it had at least a veneer of credibility.

I don't dispute your post either - it's a good point. It's inevitable that people who work in the fields covered will find dramas/comedies set within their field implausible. As a Civil Servant (though not a Home Office one!), I watch 'Yes Minister' and know that relations between Permanent Secretaries and Ministers are nothing like that of Sir Humphrey Appleby and Rt. Hon. Jim Hacker MP (even though Mrs T said it was just like real life). I enjoyed repeats of Yes Minister, being too young to have seen them when they first aired, and I enjoyed the 'old' Bill. Things were close enough to 'look' real (even the files and dispatch boxes were genuine Crown Civil Service items), but we knew it wasn't *exactly* as it is in reality.

The whole point of The Bill was that it gave the impression of being devised from the work of the Metropolitan Police Service and the real world (i.e. where there aren't legions of serial killers on the loose - including the serving coppers, no less - but no muggings), and there was some indication that they were at least paying lip service to the principles of PACE and the CJA when they put scripts together. If this was all a con (pardon the pun), then no-one at the Met complained at the time - particularly as it was found that the vast majority of people got their information on how the Met worked from The Bill.

But, most importantly of all, it was engaging and enjoyable with believable characters and situations (even if they weren't genuinely real life situations).

My main rant (and - let's face it - it's a rant!smiley - winkeye) is that, nowadays the police officers all seem to be having affairs with each other, committing serious crimes without anyone appearing to notice, covering up the crimes committed by their recently unearthed crowds of relatives (again without anyone appearing to notice), being dangerously psychotic (yet *again* without anyone appearing to notice) and they all have 'dark secrets'. PACE seems to mean the snail-like speed with which they drag a storyline out. CJA means 'Can Justify Anything' in subject matter and its treatment on-screen.

Based on what I read in the programme listings and on fan forums (where I lurk, but don't post), this programme is starting to resemble Sunset Beach for ridiculous and banal storylining. I think that's the main source of my original post: irritation at the apparent inability of programme makers to realise that not everyone likes soap operas - no matter how trashy and sensational they are.

smiley - peacedove

smiley - dog

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 5

Rains - Wondering where time's going and why it's in so much of a hurry!

Agree with the majority of the above...

It's *supposed* to be a cop show! I mean, where the smiley - bleep did the storyline about whoever-it-is-played-by-him-from-Eastenders-having-it-off-with-his-mum-who-doesn't-know-he's-her-son storyline come from?!?

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 6

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

A Greek tragedy, apparently.

Ho Hum.

smiley - dog

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 7

Rains - Wondering where time's going and why it's in so much of a hurry!

Ah, yes, wasn't it Oedipus? (which is where we get the name Oedipus complex, presumably)

You'd think they'd get some new ideas, wouldn't you smiley - winkeye

Those crayzee goings on at Sud (sorry, Sun) Hill

Post 8

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

There are lots of theories and opinions covering the point at which The Bill started going downhill (someone referred to it as 'jumped the shark'). For some, it was the CID clearout following the Beech debacle, for others it was the whole Dave/Polly thing and what it implied for the show - not that I would have objected to the storyline - it's perfectly plausible. It might have been better though if they hadn't felt some need to actually *show* the two of them knocking each other off (in a pre-watershed sort of way) - the effect of their actions upon the rest of the relief as they tried to keep it hidden from Dave's wife would have been enough, and it would have credited us with enough intelligence and imagination to read between the lines.

Ironically, some of the hour long eps from 1998 were actually damn good - it was from mid 1999 that things started to get objectionably tiresome (again - there were some gems when they didn't have the personal lives slurping in like thick treacle and sludging things up), though the view common to most 'old Bill' fans is that, no matter when things started to go wrong, it *really* went down the pan from the firebomb onwards - long established characters suffered complete personality transplants, issues were aired with the subtlety of a cannon-fired brick and storylines went to cloud cuckoo land and back.

Reading the episode guides for early January (can't go into details - just in case there's anyone out there who actually watches this stuff and doesn't want to know) things are getting so utterly ridiculous that I'm amazed it's still billed as a drama - surely farce would be more appropriate now?

I guess I sound like I'm ranting a bit - but I'm still really hacked off at the way a good drama has been so completely destroyed. If ratings were that bad, looking back, it would have been better to end things gracefully, and remember The Bill for what it was - rather than revamp it into Sunset Beach in a Police Station (I recall someone referring to it as 'Hollyoaks with Bobby Helmets' or similar).smiley - steam

The late Geoff McQueen said it was the death of a cop show to start showing private lives - he was well right. The Bill used to be a tribute to him, now it's just an insult. They really should call it something else - anything else - because it's not The Bill any more.

smiley - cross...smiley - tea...Ah, that's better...

It might not appear like it from this post - but I do have a life. Honestly.

smiley - dog

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