In week one of the Peacock, NBC/Universal’s new streaming service, I’ve been anxious to sample some of their content wares, beginning with the new Psych movie. We’ll have more coverage later this week, but I also quickly binged what has been described by some as the best new program on the Peacock, Capture, which isn’t new as much as it has been imported from the BBC due to a lack of otherwise new programming on the streaming network thanks to the pandemic.
What I have long appreciated about bleak British detective series — a massive genre of which Capture belongs — is that unlike the “copaganda” stateside, the bad guy in most British cop shows is almost always the cops or the government or some massive government or intelligence conspiracy. Many many years ago, when these British detective series (like Luther) became more readily available for American viewers, I was a little perplexed by how little regard these British shows had for their governments considering how the BBC is funded. Now I find what I previously regarded as mostly paranoia to be completely merited, and unlike the celebration of the police in American cop shows, detective shows in the UK feel like political commentary on the police state.
Capture fits that mold more so than most, although five years ago, it would have been dismissed as unrealistic. I won’t say much more than that because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that viewers have every reason to be skeptical of CCTV footage depicting the abduction at the center of the series.
Capture, unlike most British conspiracy thrillers, does not star Siobhan Finneran or Keeley Hawes (shame), but it does star another familiar face in British TV, Holliday Grainger (The Borgias). Grainger plays DI Rachel Carey, who is assigned to investigate the disappearance of barrister Hannah Roberts (Laura Haddock). Roberts disappears after successfully sparing her client, former United Kingdom Special Forces Lance Corporal Shaun Emery (Callum Turner), from a war crime conviction after an apparently doctored videotape footage captures Shaun shooting and killing an unarmed Taliban insurgent.
Shaun Emery is immediately suspected in the disappearance of Roberts, and CCTV footage — witnessed live — captures Emery kissing Roberts at a bus stop before knocking her out and dragging her away. When Emery is brought in for questioning and presented with the CCTV footage, he loses it, and at this point, it remains unclear: Did he abduct Roberts? Is he suffering from PTSD or multiple personality disorder? Or is there a nefarious police state explanation behind all of this?
It’s a British detective series, so I’ll let you all figure that one out.
Capture is a good choice for the streaming network, because feels well suited to the NBC/Peacock brand. It’s not as intense as Bodyguard or as dark as Luther, but it’s smart, well-acted, fast-paced, and important for the stateside audiences, contains a couple of actors more familiar to Americans, Famke Janssen and Ron Perlman, who both play members of a secretive CIA organization. You may not be surprised to learn — and this is not a spoiler — that the Americans in Capture play villains, although the reasons are more George W. Bush than Donald Trump.
A lot of the Peacock’s American audience who are not well versed in British detective series may find Capture novel, while those deeply steeped in it will find it comfortably familiar. Either way, at only six episodes, it’s a quick, satisfying watch with a number of unexpected twists, even if it gets somewhat convoluted near the end. Given how little new content will be available for the fall in America, it will also be a part of a larger trend of British imports throughout the rest of the year. I can only hope the rest are as well made and entertaining as Capture.
Header Image Source: Peacock