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McDonald & Dodds, review: great detective, shame about the show

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Tala Gouveia and McDonald and Jason Watkins as Dodds
Tala Gouveia and McDonald and Jason Watkins as Dodds

Actors say they like to start building a character based on their outfits, and in McDonald & Dodds (ITV) Jason Watkins2020欧洲杯足球即时比分 takes his cues from a beige anorak. He plays DS Dodds, a man so unobtrusive as to be almost invisible. He has been moved to operational policing by superiors who hope he’ll be so terrible at it that he can be managed out of the force. As his chief superintendent put it: “He’s been behind a desk since Waterloo. And he doesn’t fit with the design concept of the new crime campus.”

Dodds is a great character stuck in a not-that-great drama – one that feels like it’s been commissioned by algorithm. You liked all of those other detective shows? Then try this! So we have a young detective paired with an older sidekick (Endeavour2020欧洲杯足球即时比分), in a historic city (Inspector Morse), solving daft whodunits (Midsomer Murders) with guest stars (Death in Paradise).

The other half of the pairing is Tala Gouveia as DCI Laura McDonald (we know her first name but not, Inspector Morse-style, that of Dodds). She is an ambitious type just transferred to Bath from London, who has terrible general knowledge – see Dodds wince as she refers to “penguin falcons” – and says things like: “I’m here for two years so don’t get attached to me, but while I’m here I’m going to solve cases in half the time and with half the resources.”

The detective series is based in Bath

C2020欧洲杯足球即时比分an you see where this is going? At first, McDonald is horrified to be teamed up with someone unworldly. But, what do you know? By the end, McDonald has a newfound respect for Dodds, who cleverly solves crimes in an old-fashioned sort of way. It’s a lovely performance from Watkins, and writer Robert Murphy is good on the idea of older people being overlooked. 

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分But the drama hasn’t quite settled on the right tone: the murder plot, involving scheming businessman Max Crockett (Robert Lindsay, lots of fun), was light stuff, meaning that the racism aimed at McDonald sat awkwardly with it. And Dodds’s penchant for buttered chips was a sign that the show was trying too hard to be quirky. Given time to grow, though, this could be a decent addition to the ranks of detective dramas.