Tina Charles belting out her 1970s disco hit “I Love to Love” while a big old Mercedes saloon drives through the dark streets of London during the opening credits of River – 90 seconds is all it takes to fall this terrific show.
If there’s a better, more unexpectedly warm and engaging opening scene to any TV series in recent memory, I’d love to see that too.
Stellan Skarsgard stars as the aloof, enigmatic and haunted Detective Inspector John River – who plays perfectly against the more outgoing but equally enigmatic and haunted Nicole Walker who co-stars as DS Jackie ‘Stevie’ Stevenson.
Both River and Stevie may be haunted by the past, but when they are together there is a light in their eyes that is enchanting. When they're apart, River’s demons feel startlingly original in a TV detective context.
In fact, all of the relationships feel genuine, with a supporting cast of fully fleshed out characters, not just cardboard cut outs.
I won’t say much more for fear of spoilers – but this is a most original, emotionally engaging, sometimes unsettling but altogether rewarding TV experience.
River is a couple of years old but screened only recently on ABC TV and is still available on Netflix. The Guardian’s review does it justice (and I agree - 6 episodes feels far too short!)
Many of the best crime shows seem to run sweet but short series – think Idris Elba in Luther, and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock. Together with River, all 3 are as much about the lead characters and their relationships as they are about crime solving.