I think one of the best things I did this year was signing up for a little something called Britbox. The streaming service focused on British entertainment has allowed me to watch old personal favorites like “Doctor Who,” “Are You Being Served?” and “The Vicar Of Dibley.” Britbox has also introduced me to a slew of brand new shows. Actually, I should say shows that are new to me.
Anyways, this past weekend I checked Britbox for something I hadn’t seen, and I landed on a series called “Bancroft.” The 2017 drama stars Sarah Parish as Elizabeth Bancroft, a well-respected Detective Superintendent, who is currently attempting to bring down a criminal gang. At the same time, a cold case which involved Bancroft is re-opened by young Detective Sergeant Katherine Stevens, played by Faye Marsay.
The cold case from 1990 revolves around a young woman named Laura Fraser. She was found murdered in her own home in a pool of her own blood after being stabbed over a dozen times. Spring forward 27 years, where up and coming detective Katherine Stevens (Faye Marsay), is assigned to the cold case desk.
The first cold case Stevens looks into is the stabbing of Laura Fraser. Ar first it seems like he case will have a dead-end, but her research eventually finds evidence of a possible police cover-up, something Bancroft might be at the center of.
I won’t spoil here how exactly Bancroft fits into the cold case. I’ll just say that I liked the idea and brought it something fresh to this type of cop drama. Another nice thing about “Bancroft” is we got to see how Katherine Stevens put together her new evidence. It’s a simple thing, but the actual work gets glossed over in too many cop shows these days.
The premise of the series is rather simple but it works thanks to the excellent performance of Sarah Parish as Elizabeth Bancroft. Parish plays the tough detective quite well, as a natural leader and someone who has given her life to the police force. Consequently, she’s trusted and adored by her colleagues and a promotion to Detective Chief Superintendent looks likely. Bancroft also seems to be a good mother to her son, and possible mention to Katharine Stevens.
But this old case of hers could be trouble, and she will not give up will do anything to make sure it the case remains unsolved. Bancroft is also a very controlling person and this lifts a lid on a part of her life that she can’t control and she doesn’t like it. Watching her was odd because part of you wants to root for her because she is a damn good cop. but the more you find out as the series unfolds, the more you as the viewer begin to wonder if it’s okay to like this woman.
Also worthy of praise is Faye Marsay. She plays Stevens as a detective just trying to do the right thing no matter where it leads. She seems to really care for the victims and their families which makes her stand out from some of her colleagues. There’s conflict in her new job as well after she begins a relationship with Bancroft’s son, and also begins to admire Bancroft as a police officer.
I liked the Katharine Stevens character quite a bit, she’s the viewer’s guide through all the twists and turns in the series. But sadly, we really don’t get a lot of background on her. Maybe that because the series focuses on Bancroft, but a few more lines of dialogue about where she comes from or what she likes to do on her downtime, would have been nice. Regardless, Marsay did an excellent job of making Stevens more human and someone the audience can cheer for.
At just four episodes, events in “Bancroft” move very quickly. The main plotline builds and builds at such a pace that you can’t help but binge-watch the entire thing in one sitting. However, considering how incredible the build-up was, I was expecting more from the finale.
Don’t get me wrong, episode four was a solid episode that answered many questions and had strong performances. But I thought the episode was missing something. From what I understand there’s going to be a second season to the show, so maybe that had something to do with how it ended, who knows?
But if any show needed a definitive ending, I’d say it was “Bancroft.” Oh well, as the Rolling Stones once said: “you can’t always get what you want.”
At the end of the day “Bancroft” is still a series worth watching, and at only four episodes it won’t’ take too much of your time. And even though I was a little unsatisfied with the series’ ending, I’d have to say this show is still one of the better crime dramas I’ve seen, British or not.
“Bancroft” score: B+