25 October 2023


Unforgotten, it ain’t.  But it’s still Nicola Walker.  And even if we don’t have Sunny and the rest of the Unforgotten crew, we have a new team, up in the wilds of Glasgow.

Annika is another police procedural, courtesy of the PBS Masterpiece channel (which, along with Acorn, carries a bunch of good stuff).  It follows the Marine Homicide Unit – is there, in fact, such a thing?  Not that it matters, it makes for a good set-up.  The episodes are self-contained, so unlike Unforgotten, or Shetland, there’s no story arc over the full season.  Nor is Annika as dark as either of the aforementioned.  It has a lighter touch.  And it has a gimmick where Nicola’s character breaks the fourth wall, and speaks directly to us, sharing not so much her thoughts about the specific case in hand, but more her textural observations, Ibsen or Sophocles, whatever pops into her floating stream of consciousness.  I find this device both charming and revealing, it has transparency; I can also see where people could find it aggravating, fey and cutesy. 

The show has grit, without being horrifically brutal or down in the mouth.  Glasgow has the rap of being a pretty tough burg, but as shown here, it’s not all murk and spit and shadows.  And people don’t seem oppressed or bitter.  It doesn’t come across like a province of the former Soviet Union. 

The other three cops on the squad are individuated enough to give them flavor and specifics, without falling into the generic, or caricature, but it’s Annika herself who has an inner life, and a domestic one.  She’s a single mom, with a teenage daughter, and this is nowhere near as deadly as it might sound.  Their relationship is prickly, and feels organic, and it’s interesting from the outside.  Both actresses feed into a natural dynamic, adversarial and anything but treacly.  Part of what makes it work is that our hero, while very perceptive and on-game as a cop, is a lot less skillful as a mom.  She has a hard time navigating the shoals. 

The mysteries are better than serviceable, although not terribly mystifying; the cop shop stuff is convincing; the cops are really good, you get to like them, the cast wins you over.  Mind you, they can be rather dour (dure, the Scots would say), and the humor – of which there’s a fair amount – is delivered very deadpan.  You can turn on the subtitles, too, but if you’ve gotten used to the accents in Shetland, it shouldn’t pose a problem here.

You kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. The first season in, I think this one’s a keeper.


  1. I liked Unforgotten. I'd have to see to judge, but I've noticed a number of old radio dramas, without the advantage of visuals, relied upon a character popping up to reveal thoughts or observations.

    >"… province of the former Soviet Union."

    I recognize exactly what you mean. That's well put.

  2. We've got the second season here in Canada, and it's also wonderful, David! What a relief it is to see a show starring a woman in her 40s, rather than 20s, who doesn't show off fake cleavage every single episode. This is a grown-up show with a complex protagonist, and I for one, vote for more like it.


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