What can I say? Line of Duty: Series 1 stars the marvelous Lennie James (The Walking Dead) as main character DCI Tony Gates, so immediately I was pumped, as he is such a brilliant actor and he certainly shines here.
The Line of Duty series follows a group of officers from AC-12, the anti-corruption squad who polices the police. It stars Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings, the head of the squad, Vicky McClure as Kate Fleming, an officer who often goes undercover, and new recruit Martin Compston as Steve Arnott, a police officer who was, himself, involved in a questionable shooting, and his honesty about the matter causes him to become a pariah, which then leads him to join AC-12.
AC-12 sets their sites on DCI Tony Gates (James) since he was named Officer of the Year and he's basically the police department's golden boy. His team regularly has incredibly high case closure numbers, and Hastings is sure he is bent. The truth is, he's a great cop and a pretty good person who has made some mistakes, but he doesn't deserve what AC-12 throws at him - at least, not at first.
Gates does tend to cherry pick the best cases for his team, because as he says, if it's big and sexy, then his team should be the one to close it. However, as AC-12 tries to nail him for something called laddering, piling offense upon offense for a single case, they find other things to concern them. Mainly, that Gates is not only cheating on his wife with his former fiancee (ok, so he's not a nice person, but that doesn't mean he is a crooked cop), but that he helped her cover things up when she experienced a drunken hit and run. Tony was just helping his girlfriend when he thought she ran over a dog out in the country, but as he soon discovers, that wasn't what actually happened and his girl is not just a real estate agent and she has her fingers in some very illegal pies.
Tony and his team then take on a gritty case involving the murder of some local drug dealers and it seems like those behind it are big players in organized crime. Involved in all of this is a dirty cop known as "the Caddy" and this character will pop up in later episodes as well, as a thorn in the side of AC-12.
As Tony tries to keep himself off of AC-12's radar, he only digs himself deeper in, especially since he doesn't realize that the new member of his team is actually Kate Fleming working undercover. The rest of his team include Matthew "Dot" Cottan (Craig Parkinson) and DC Morton (Neil Morrissey, The Good Karma Hospital), both of whom owe Gates a lot and will stand behind him no matter what. As the walls begin to close in on Gates, will the good cop part of him shine or will he turn further to the dark side?
I enjoyed the setup of this series, but I found the character of Ted Hastings to be much more of a jerk in this series than in the later ones. It was like he was gunning for Tony Gates just because he was successful and heralded as a good cop, which seemed pretty awful to me. As it turns out, Gates had his share of dirty laundry, but AC-12 didn't know that at the start. The characters of Arnott and Fleming flesh out nicely through the series and will continue to evolve, and they make an effective team, with Hastings in the lead. The shining star is, of course, Lennie James, as he turns from a perfect example of what a good cop can be, to a completely menacing force when he feels threatened, and this show is an excellent example of his varied acting skills.
Special features include a handful of interviews with cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage. The interviews are alright, but the footage is probably better skipped since it is literally just footage of them shooting scenes and is a little boring. Overall, though, the show is great and a wonderful intro to the dangerous world of AC-12.