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Prime Suspect (1973)

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Editor's Note:

Discuss Prime Suspect (1973) here.

 

 

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Premieres Sunday, June 25th at 10/9c!

Behind every great detective is a backstory. MASTERPIECE dials back the clock to spotlight the influences that turned 22-year-old rookie policewoman Jane Tennison into the savvy, single-minded crime fighter beloved by Prime Suspect viewers over the course of seven seasons.

Starring Stefanie Martini (Doctor Thorne) in the iconic role immortalized by Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: Tennison airs in three riveting 90-minute episodes airing summer 2017 on MASTERPIECE Mystery! on PBS.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/prime-suspect-tennison/

This aired in the UK in March as Prime Suspect 1973. Unless a mod says otherwise, please use the spoiler tag when discussing things that haven't aired in the US yet. The airdates are June 25, July 2, and July 9.

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I really enjoyed the first episode.  Jane is likable, so are Morgan and Bradfield.  The other cops are pretty awful but they probably were in real life too.

I"m looking forward to the next episode. 

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I kept getting two guys confused. Rather, I didn't know they were two guys at first. Eddie and David, I think the names were.

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I agree about getting the guys confused.  Didn't they both have bad legs? 

Overall, I thought it was ok.  Unrealistic, in that I think the sexism would have been much more overt and awful, which I assume would be part of the reason for Jane being the way she was in the later series.

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1 hour ago, mjc570 said:

I agree about getting the guys confused.  Didn't they both have bad legs?

Yes, what are the odds?! David, the son of the purse-snatching victim and the incarcerated man from New Tricks, used crutches, and Eddie, the drug user and pimp, didn't.

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5 hours ago, dcalley said:

I kept getting two guys confused. Rather, I didn't know they were two guys at first. Eddie and David, I think the names were.

I know. They really looked alike. And both had leg trouble. One crutches. One limps.

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I was iffy on this, because who needs a prequel when you can just watch the original.  Then I saw it was based on Lynda LaPlante's book, and thought I'd give it a try.  I liked it, although I was really hoping they wouldn't go the route of Jane & her boss getting involved because she's never seemed like that kind of person.  Still, I enjoyed it enough to keep watching for now.

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 Jane was far too fresh faced and dewy for me to buy her as Tennison. Also, the prison stuff was confusing as hell.

The problem with the mystery was that I didn't care and other than JT's boss, it seemed like no one else did either. 

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I liked this a lot more than the rest of you did, I suppose.  I think the mysteries are interesting, and I like the way they are portraying Tennison as a young cop learning the ropes.  You can see the seeds of her future personality.  I'm sorry they didn't do more seasons.

I remember the American version was more about a cop who was sort of socially inept.  I was also sorry to see that one go.

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I enjoyed watching this.  I've never seen the show with Helen Mirren so I had no pre-conceived notions about Jane Tennison (although I did watch the American show that starred Maria Bello).  I really like the actress who plays Jane (liked her in Emerald City as well).   I wonder why it didn't get renewed?

A question for fans of the original show: was the older Jane a smoker?  Just asking because of when the young Jane was offered a cigarette she said that she didn't smoke.  I figured that they put that in for a reason.   And I agree that the clothing and hair was of the time (I was in 10th grade in 1973).  

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18 hours ago, 12catcrazy said:

I enjoyed watching this.  I've never seen the show with Helen Mirren so I had no pre-conceived notions about Jane Tennison (although I did watch the American show that starred Maria Bello).  I really like the actress who plays Jane (liked her in Emerald City as well).   I wonder why it didn't get renewed?

A question for fans of the original show: was the older Jane a smoker?  Just asking because of when the young Jane was offered a cigarette she said that she didn't smoke.  I figured that they put that in for a reason.   And I agree that the clothing and hair was of the time (I was in 10th grade in 1973).  

Yes, in the original Prime Suspect (which I cannot recommend highly enough), Tennison smoked a lot, especially under stress.

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It was "entertaining enough" but had zero to do with Mirren's Tennison and, imho, was fairly generic and unexceptional (except for it's very pretty star and the period-evoking soundtrack) ... really "nothing special" although the money they spent on "production values" was apparent. 

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5 more episodes to go ....  yes, the pacing of the first episode was excellent and it did manage to create and maintain interest and even suspense ... definitely not pretty paperdolls on parade 

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I really enjoyed it.

 

the song they used in the opening was used in the 90s in a crossover episode of law and order and criminal intent- two parter- bait a teenage model who was raped and killed. They thought it was the father but turned out it was he mother who was so insanely jealous she raped the daughter with kitchen implements. I still tear up thinking about it, a little girl who just wanted mom to love her.

 

anyway, haven't seen any but first episode but because of the song just KNEW parents involved somehow even though could be straight coincidence since song is period (it was just atmospheric in the other).

 

ialso got the boyfriend and other guy confused. The boyfriend seemed sweet. But he's not the one they caught is he? 

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I will be watching to see how they depict the rampant sexism of the time (if they do).  It's well portrayed in Endeavor.  I was a little surprised that Jane and the other female officer were so collegial since in a male-centric profession there was often efforts by the men to create rivalries and jealousies and (some) women, sometimes, are just as competitive as men particularly if they were (1) there first (2) afraid to be outshone by a bright new arrival (see also endeavor).  At least where I was in the USA (Los Angeles) the daily sexism and deliberate intimidation of women by men would probably be hard to believe to someone under 40 ... and I've been in situations where younger women appeared to be unaware that they were being discounted in a sexist way by men.  Rebeccal Solnit has a new book out on this sort of dismissive sexism -- a book I suspect is sorely needed.  It's easy to recognize "harassment" ... not so easy to pinpoint being erased as a "contender" on the basis of gender stereotyping./bias. 

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The actor who plays her boss sounds so much like Alan Rickman that I nearly got whiplash from turning to look at the screen.  Not a bad show (I'm just watching to first episode now).  

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On 6/30/2017 at 11:15 PM, SusanSunflower said:

5 more episodes to go

There were 6 UK episodes that have been made into 3 US ones.

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19 hours ago, Crisopera said:

The actor who plays her boss sounds so much like Alan Rickman that I nearly got whiplash from turning to look at the screen.  Not a bad show (I'm just watching to first episode now).  

I thought he was Robert Webb at first.

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Note to self righteous male policemen:  there's a perfectly good reason why the mattress in a young woman's bedroom might have bloodstains.  Non-suspicious reasons.

I'm still enjoying this although the wig on young Tennison is really really bad.

I am convinced that the Greek café where they are accessing the bank is the same one in the original Prime Suspect.  Where Marlow kept the keys to his garage.  It looks exactly the same.

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I am enjoying this show, but I had a problem differentiating between the two long-haired boys (Eddie and ?) and I still am not sure which one was killed.  Maybe now that one is dead i will understand it better.

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But now there's only one left so it will be easy!

Eddie, the boyfriend, was killed.

David (?), the crippled son of the guy who just got out of prison, is still alive.  David was the one shown in the very first scene in the place where they found the girl's body.

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I was baffled by that also ... such a strange thing that I wondered if it **had** to be a (future) plot device ... The story moves along with pauses for sex and "romance" -- the degree to which they appear to be "in love" (and willing to risk at least her career) strikes me as surprising ... I'd say out-of-character but we don't actually know her well enough to say.   Was moving into that apartment then her first experience of living away-from-home ... gosh I remember getting my first "own" place (a large back room in a neighbor's home with limited fridge space and a hot plate) ... back in the olden days when I couldn't afford my own TV for several years (being a starving putting-myself-through-college student ... 

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55 minutes ago, MJ Frog said:

Hell's bells. I am like the The Cooler for TV shows. First the WWI nurse thing, then Home Fires, and now this one. Or maybe I just have really bad taste.

No, they just rip us off.

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Thinking about this show and Martini reminded me of other, imho, more credible young female police officer characters ... secondary characters who I found believable ... most notably Nicola Walker in Touching Evil and Hermoine Norris in Wire in the Blood.  

Endeavor recently introduced a female counterpart who -- like Martini -- is too pretty and too quick (brilliant) to be particularly believable, particularly in 1972 ... back when most women were expected (sooner rather than later) to get married and have children, so choosing a "career path" was often tinged with "low expectations" in the romance/marriage department (with whispers about being "not interested in men" common).  FWIW, imho, both Nicola Walker and Hermoine Norris were immediately strikingly not-bland in their roles which imdb tells me debuted in 1997-1999 and 2002-2005, 20 and 15 years ago respectively) and have been working steadily since.  

Edited by SusanSunflower
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@SusanSunflower, I like the woman who shows up in season 6 of George Gently. But there are really only two colleagues for her to interact with, and we don't know much about her other than what we see during cases. The last episode of season 7 seemed a stretch (her solo undercover work), but I was happy for her own storyline. I haven't seen season 8 yet but look forward to her having an increased presence (I think).

As for Tennison, I was somewhat lost after a week's break, especially because I watched a George Gently episode set in 1969 in the interim. I'm glad Eddie's dead so we can stop confusing him with David.

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I haven't seen the last few years of Gently (not on any streaming service I use).  The pretty brilliant young copper on Endeavor is "fun" but it feels as if she was introduced as an inevitable romantic partner for Morse -- as well as intellectual rival.  I know nothing about British police customs -- is becoming a police officer a relatively quick path to the middle class and financial security for those who can't afford or don't qualify for university and other professions? I don't know that we've ever known why Jane Tennison decided to become a police officer.  

I've always loved the reason Serpico gave (at least in the film), that he grew up in a bad neighborhood where bad things happened often and when they did, there was always a cop there who knew what to do and would try to make things right while everyone else just stood around helplessly.  Serpico wanted to be "that guy" who knew what to do to restore order. 

Morse couldn't find a better puzzle-solving occupation, being easily tired to academics  (and probably academic infighting) as well as probably on some level relishing his superior puzzle-solving gifts.  It's "funny" having Tennison's background being rather posh, since that means she likely had more options than her peers, male or female.  We don't need to be spoonfed, but significant wrt lying about the assault on the drug dealer.  Some folks (unfortunately) love the power of the uniform not only to brutalize but also to intrude and stalk and get vengeance ... that's not new or rare ... making the world safe for "people like us" -- y'know the deserving and punishing the bad-guys and undeserving. 

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On ‎07‎/‎03‎/‎2017 at 5:48 PM, meep.meep said:

Note to self righteous male policemen:  there's a perfectly good reason why the mattress in a young woman's bedroom might have bloodstains.  Non-suspicious reasons.

I'm still enjoying this although the wig on young Tennison is really really bad.

I am convinced that the Greek café where they are accessing the bank is the same one in the original Prime Suspect.  Where Marlow kept the keys to his garage.  It looks exactly the same.

Okay, so now I need to watch the original again.  (Like I really needed a reason.)

I'm finding the actress cast as Jane too dewy and doe-eyed to be a credible young version of Jane Tennison.  And I don't really buy Tennison sleeping with a superior officer - it doesn't seem part of the character as established by the original.  Not sure how I feel about her toeing the line about how the suspect ended up injured; on one hand, I can see her maybe doing that at this point in her career, but on the other hand, it doesn't quite seem like something Jane Tennison would do.  But I was happy to be correct about who had beaten the murder victim, and I am still digging the clothing and music.  It takes me back to my unfortunately not-misspent youth.

On ‎07‎/‎03‎/‎2017 at 8:50 PM, SusanSunflower said:

I was baffled by that also ... such a strange thing that I wondered if it **had** to be a (future) plot device ... The story moves along with pauses for sex and "romance" -- the degree to which they appear to be "in love" (and willing to risk at least her career) strikes me as surprising ... I'd say out-of-character but we don't actually know her well enough to say.   Was moving into that apartment then her first experience of living away-from-home ... gosh I remember getting my first "own" place (a large back room in a neighbor's home with limited fridge space and a hot plate) ... back in the olden days when I couldn't afford my own TV for several years (being a starving putting-myself-through-college student ... 

I don't think it was an apartment.  It appeared to be a room in police-supplied dormitory housing.

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On 7/3/2017 at 10:04 PM, MJ Frog said:

Hell's bells. I am like the The Cooler for TV shows. First the WWI nurse thing, then Home Fires, and now this one. Or maybe I just have really bad taste.

Me too, only I suspect it's actually the other way around and we actually have good taste!

I love the movie "The Cooler", BTW, and yep, that's me, only it extends to everything, even shampoo brands, LOL.

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Still enjoying this show but a bit taken aback by Jane jumping into bed with her boss.  We know that she's sexually "liberated" by her mother finding her birth control pills but for being a smart, young, ambitious woman, she doesn't seem to realize that no matter how good she is on the job, her success is going to be chalked up to her sleeping with the boss!

Again, not having seen the Helen Mirren show, I don't know if there was ever anything in there about the character having "slept her way up the ladder" but I remember there was something like that in the short-lived American remake.  The New York version of Jane Tennison seemed to have a number or personal issues and there seemed to be a long-standing simmering resentment by some of the male detectives that she had gotten her position by having a long-ago affair with her boss.  

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There was nothing about her having slept her way up the ladder.  There was a lot about how sexually active she is.

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14 minutes ago, meep.meep said:

There was nothing about her having slept her way up the ladder.  There was a lot about how sexually active she is.

This sounds right, but it aired so long ago, and I have slept since then. :(

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my vague memory -- yes it was a long time ago -- was that she was quite happy -- when on an investigation -- to bed subordinate officers .... 

This finale was massively overstuffed ...."it worked" and allowed Martini to give Jane some depth even if Mirren shadow was nowhere to be found and there was  little to no evidence of Jane's emotional or ethical development. 

Underlying Mirren's Tennison (rather like Morse or Wallander) is both a smouldering and bitter outrage and grief at the waste of it all -- the inexorable process of murder investigation ... early yet, but not really a glimmer of that in Jane.  

Did the Greek Restaurant owner "get away" with his shopping bag of loot? ... I rather hope so. 

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I never could buy this young woman as a young Tennison and that she didn't look in the least like Mirren didn't help but isn't the main reason I couldn't accept her.  I watch "Endeavour" about the young Morse and that actor doesn't look anything like the old Morse - yet because of the spirit of the performance he is young Morse to me.

However, at some point in the middle episode I decided I was simply going to ignore the Tennison thing and was watching this as a period police drama with a young police woman trying to make her mark.  And I enjoyed it quite a bit within those perimeters.  I liked the production values and the supporting cast of police and criminals.  Stand-outs I thought were the mother of the criminals and the sergeant our heroine saved from a police brutality charge.  That actor had a good period look and was always interesting to watch.

Ironically her police detective lover was the blandest part to me - until he got killed off (which I didn't expect) and turned out to be married with children all along - which I also didn't see coming.

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anyone else startled/confused by the use of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock at the funeral?? Still don't understand that choice.  They were, I think trying to capture / link the ephemeral / magical nature of life/death to this officer's death, although if it hadn't been an exploding propane/acetylene  tank, it might have been someone with a gun ... he walked into that bank vault brazenly, even carelessly ... 

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7 hours ago, Pickles said:

Did not see it coming that Bradfield was married with kids! Clearly, Jane did not either.

Duh. I thought he was married at first but then I accepted that he wasn't and that my first impression was wrong. I was then fooled at the end. Annoyed at self. 

I liked the episode, but it was very dark. Bentley Sr. was such a monster and you could see why Bradfield was obsessed with getting him. I wouldn't mind more episodes about young Jane. I thought it was well done how she was inducted into the blue wall of silence and how the conscience must be twisted to justify it. 

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It was very dark ... particularly since it would have been possible to capture the bank robbing crew -- minus the Hollywood you're under arrest take-down in the vault -- without the loss of police life. The motive for Bradfield was revenge for the earlier death of a colleague -- not the greed and unrepentant nature of Bentley.   The fate of the Greek figures in the calculations ... 

Bentley Senior was already on "borrowed time" and behaved like the caged rat he was ...  and "crime doesn't pay" ended up alone in the visiting room on visiting day -- having lost both sons and (at least for now) his wife. 

I half-expected Jane and Gibbs to hook-up in the final moments. 

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SusanSunflower, ITA on Woodstock. I have no idea what they meant by that, and I was Jane Tennison's approximate age in 1973. 

As for Bentley Sr. in the waiting room, I was at a loss to explain whom he was waiting for. Did he actually think someone would show up?  

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I was not surprised to find out Len Bradfield was married (it seemed unlikely to me that he wouldn't be), but it's ridiculous that Jane didn't know. And you want to be a detective! ;)

I really liked Jane happily looking at the promoted Kathy at the end.

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