Of the British police procedurals with female leads that have been shown in the US, only Prime Suspect, with its mix of DCI/DS Jane Tennison’s gritty police work and personal dramas, acquired a notable fan base. That is, until Scott & Bailey.
And until last year, when Scott & Bailey arrived stateside on a few dozen public television stations. (See “Hit Detective Series Scott & Bailey Comes to Local PBS Stations” for the list.)
No pun or cliché intended, but viewers fell head over heels for the program and its lead characters, the titular DC Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and DC Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones), as well as their boss DCI Gill Murray (Amelia Bullmore).
The married-with-children Scott and the single-with-boyfriend Bailey are coworkers and friends. Ditto Scott and the divorced Murray (a.k.a. Godzilla), both of whom serve as mentors of sort to the younger Bailey. As part of the Manchester Metropolitan Police Major Incident Team (MIT), they solve serious crimes.
That might sound rather pedestrian for a detective series, but Scott & Bailey is anything but, and for several reasons.
Each episode’s plot consists of several distinct yet interconnected storylines, only one of which focuses on a murder that the entire MIT investigates. Others, some involving criminal activity, some not, serve as arcs that thread one episode to the next and span one or more seasons.
Then there are the lead characters and their professional and personal lives and relationships. Here we don’t have to make inferences about them based on innuendo or through occasional glimpses. Instead, we get to see full-on their goings-on within and without the office, their reactions to the welcome and the unwanted, and the impact all of this has on them as hard-nosed detectives and fragile human beings.
It is in the weaving together of these elements with top-notch storytelling and acting that makes Scott & Bailey, a two-time BAFTA nominee for Best Drama Series, such a pleasure to watch. And why so many viewers in so few viewing areas have come to be fans of the show, and why stations have been re-airing the series so soon after its initial run to meet viewer demand.
Now fans of British TV throughout the US can get in on the goods.
The first two seasons of Scott & Bailey are available for streaming exclusively on Hulu. As for the third season (which was equally as brilliant), Hulu informed me that “We don’t have streaming rights for current BBC content unfortunately.” So, we’ll let you know when they do.
In the meantime, you have 14 episodes to binge-watch, plus a fourth season, which begins filming this Spring, to look forward to.