There’s this police drama that is big in the UK. Line of Duty is now into its sixth series and has a tremendous reputation. One thing it doesn’t do is treat its audience as unintelligent so you have to stay alert if you want to keep up.
Last night was episode one of the new series and two things struck me. One it was grindingly slow. Bit worrying that cos one thing you don’t do with a Line of Duty episode is expect the twists to be telegraphed. In fact, it’s best not to get attached to character as they’ll probably be bumped off in the next frame.
The second were the bloody acronyms. In one piece of dialogue we had ‘We can keep it on the DL only if we have a CHIS on the MIT.’ Yep, that beat me too.
But and here’s the thing, when ‘CHIS’ was first used, I didn’t think ‘WTF’? – in this context it stands for Covert Human Intelligence Source – a sort of undercover operator. Rather my mind spun backwards to the nine year old me and a wonderful set of subversive children’s books I fell in love with written by Geoffrey Willans (gotta like the name) and illustrated by the glorious Ronald Searle that featured Nigel Molesworth and St Custards prep school. Molesworth was everything you weren’t supposed to be back then and wonderful as a result. And when things weren’t fair Molesworth would exclaim ‘chiz, chiz, chiz’.
Chiz is a real word meaning an exclamation expressing deception or inconvenience. Somehow I couldn’t quite shake off the idea that Molesworth, now grown and nearing retirement was in one of these police stations, a bumbling, largely incompetent jobsworth who knew how to do the minimum to stay employed, a character so far from those portrayed as to be an almost alien species. But how much better would this glacial first episode have been if Desk Sergeant Molesworth was involved? Corruption, organized crime, tortured souls under intolerable stress are all very well, but whatever happened to everyday incompetence, ducking and diving and being a lazy sod? Okay, it might not be commissioned for a seventh series but that would have been a twist no one saw coming.