TV Review – Criminal (UK) Season 1

TL;DR – This is an interesting concept, with some powerful performances, but I am not sure three episodes was enough time to really show it off.  

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Criminal (UK). Image Credit: Netflix.


Netflix as the premier multi-national streaming juggernaut (for the time being) has been doing a lot of experimenting in recent years. With Black Mirror: Bandersnatch they gave the world a choose your own adventure in cinematic form and with Ultimate Beastmaster they produced different versions for each of the countries participating. Well today we get to take a look at the next experiment with Criminal a series that produced four different versions for France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. Well today we are going to take a look at the UK version to see how this experiment works out.

To set the scene, we open in on DI Natalie Hobbs’ (Katherine Kelly) team as they begin an interview with the suspect of a murder. For you see her team are experts in interrogation, so they are used when there is a time crunch or a serious case that needs their attention. The first of these involves a doctor (David Tennant) that is accused of molesting and then murdering his step-daughter. The interview has been going for hours and time is running out because if they can’t find some way to get him to crack he could walk free. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

Criminal (UK). Image Credit: Netflix.
David Tennant gives what might be his creepiest performance to date. Image Credit: Netflix.

While this is an experiment, we are going to focus on the UK version in this review, because they were the episodes first available to me and also because while the concept was interesting, I am not sure it did enough for me to seek out the other versions. It is not a bad show by any stretch of the imagination, just one that needed a bit more time to breath. One of the things that does hold it back a little bit is the short run order, with there being only three episodes per-series. I know the rationale is that there are twelve episodes in total but they are different teams and that is everything. They have to do a full arc with multiple characters and there is just not enough time to get to know them and for us to bond with them before things start falling apart.

However, while I don’t think it ever reached the heights it was going for, there were moments that really made it stand out across the three episodes. In the first episode Edgar it is, of course, David Tennant playing what I think is his worst character so far. That look he gave felt like it was staring through me and it was unsettling, to say the least. The third episode Jay was the one where there was finally a bit of tension because there was a ticking clock and real lives on the line. Add to this Jay (Youssef Kerkour) the in over his head lorry driver and it is compelling television. However, the standout, without a doubt was Hayley Atwell as Stacey. Her performance with the ebbs and flows as the story changed all the way to the heart-breaking ending was mesmerising. This whole episode shows the strength of the show from start to finish and I wish we had gotten more episodes like this.      

Criminal (UK). Image Credit: Netflix.
Where the show really shines is in the episode Stacey where Hayley Atwell gives a command performance. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend Criminal? Well yes, but not a resounding yes. The cases are interesting, as is the setting, but you end up not caring about anything that happens outside of the room, and they really want you to care. There are some amazing performances and that is enough for me to say you should give the three episodes a watch but not enough to say that you should search out every part of the series. If you have watched the French, Spanish or German versions let me know what you thought in the comments below, because I would be interesting to see how they stack up.   

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Criminal yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Criminal
Directed by
– Jim Field Smith
Written by – George Kay
Created by – George Kay & Jim Field Smith
Production/Distribution Companies – Idiotlamp Productions & Netflix
Starring – Katherine Kelly, Lee Ingleby, Mark Stanley, Rochenda Sandall, Shubham Saraf & Nicholas Pinnock with Lolita Chakrabarti, David Tennant, Mark Quartley, Hayley Atwell, Kevin Eldon, Isabella Laughland, Claire-Hope Ashitey & Youssef Kerkour.  
Episodes Covered – Edgar, Stacey & Jay.


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