For one thing, it was stylish. It wasn't as fantastically flashy as Murder City, which I truly miss and wish would get a second series (no chance, because of how stylised and comical it was, but that was why I loved it), but when it covered flashbacks it did them beautifully, and the opening sequence sent shivers down my spine. The music is excellent.
The main thing, though, is that it brought to the screen a great many things that I look for and adore in modern detective fiction. You might think that modern television would mirror modern fiction in a genre as clearly-defined as crime, but in fact, TV detectives are for the most part the same way they've been for the last fifteen or so years (and probably before that) - somewhat overweight intellectuals with a tendency to quote Shakespeare or obscure Victorian poetry at tense moments, whose deep personal trauma involves a wife or child having died long before the series starts and is talked about in hushed voices by his loyal but to be honest a lot less intellectual teammates.
But last night, Trevor Eve was not playing your fundamentally avuncular if bitter detective. No. He was quite plainly skirting around the edges of going completely mad, for a start. Detectives Aren't Supposed To Be Like That. They are supposed to square their shoulders and tug their big coat tighter around themselves and get on with it. But Boyd is, slightly, losing his grip, or at least he was in this first episode. I like that; I like it a lot, and it was handled very well by his partner (nothing as Morse as a sidekick, here) who had clearly been dealing with him being like that for some time. And he is getting on with it, but the tension never leaves him, and nor does the contagious nervous energy that fills him and, presumably, is what stops him from being able to go on hiatus to get himself back together or something. It was electrifying to watch. Not police-realistic, no - and you wouldn't want your real detectives to be like that, or they'd be the ones being found washed to shore on the banks of the Thames - but human-realistic, and compelling and brilliantly acted, also. Plus, when he gets angry he doesn't shout at people. He's pleasant and amused and nasty at them, in a way that reminds me slightly of Sean Connery but without the being deeply unattractive part. Because also, Trevor Eve is extremely attractive in this. Which isn't likely, as he has a beard. But there you go. Good acting can even overcome beards.
notintheseheels, I wish you weren't going back to Cambridge, you'd be absolutely loving this. See if you can't get somewhere to watch it on Sunday/Monday nights.
And oh dear, Audiography's theme is the 60s this week. Blast. I was really feeling like posting some music.