THE FIRST 48

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed there’s often a slight dip in quality in the TV schedule every day between about 6am and 11pm when the quality programming starts. It’s all either Channel 4 documentaries about a lady who married the concept of dismay, or a BBC One show where Dominic Littlewood shouts at tradesmen. So, seeing as the alternative is bonding with the family or reading an improving book (stop laughing), I found myself flicking through the more obscure channels while waiting for South Park to come on. And let me tell you, once you ignore all the programmes about obese babies or comedians called Russell jumping about on BBC Three you can actually pick up some surprisingly good shows. The First 48 (Crime Channel) is one of these.

A bit of background info first; it’s a show about the police. But not the police you see on your shows like Law and Order. No, these are real police officers. Real, balding, overweight, but most importantly real police officers. Guys who don’t run around dealing with angst and playing silly buggers with sunglasses. Which is ironic, because I episode I caught was actually set in Miami…

The basic premise is that a camera crew follows various police forces around as they investigate murders, the idea being that the first 48 hours after a murder are the most significant (do you see what they did there?) And I have to be honest, for the Americans this is actually done with a surprisingly large amount of tact and sensitivity.

There’s none of this “ooo there’s a dead body, look at it, quickly, look, quick, lo- LOOK AT IT! SEE HIM, THERE, BEING ALL DEAD! LOOK AT THE CAMERA ANGLES! WHAT ABOUT WITH DIFFERENT FILTERS? LOOK!” bollocks that you might sadly expect from a crime show. But this is no CSI. This is a show that gives a deep insight into the inner workings of the ol’ US o’ A’s police departments.

What stands out here is that it shows a lot of compassion towards poorer areas. While it’s tempting to sit there sighing to yourself about what a shame it all is before nodding politely while your nan says something racist about how some of the victims are black guys, you can see that the police are working hard to make the streets a better place.

One bit that particularly stood out for me was a bit I caught actually a couple of months ago when I was in Florida. It was a leader of a gang who was sitting alone in an interrogation room during a questioning breaking down in tears and calling for his mum. Which was both harrowing and morbidly fascinating at the same time. And I applaud the show’s makers for making a show like this.

It’s an eye-opening show, one that both serves as background noise while you surf the net and a compelling real-life police drama, and let’s all just be a bit disappointed there aren’t more like it out there. So let’s just all be thankful that there’s actually a good, tasteful show out there that doesn’t use actors. Unless any of the victims in this show used to play a dead body on CSI or something. In which case I don’t know which would hurt more, the murder or the irony…

To be honest, I feel a bit dirty reviewing something I actually quite like. Which sucks for me, because now I’m going to have to read the Daily Mail to become angry enough again. So; next time, some jokes. Also, maybe a slightly less clumsily-written article…

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