The Responder is a British police procedural crime drama series set in Liverpool, written by former Liverpool police officer Tony Schumacher. This 5-part miniseries revolves around Chris Carson (Martin Freeman) — a crisis-stricken, morally compromised first-responder tackles a series of night shifts on the beat in Liverpool, while trying to keep his head above water personally and professionally.
While Freeman is supported ably by a superb cast viz. Adelayo Adebayo (as his colleague Rachel Hargreaves, MyAnna Buring (as his wife, Kate), Ian Hart (as his friend/drug dealer Carl Sweeney), amongst others; it is his stellar performance that defines the series. Film-goers and TV viewers who are probably more used to Freeman’s roles in the Hobbit, Sherlock and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be pleasantly surprised by the gritty, conflicted and disturbed character he portrays here.
While it is clear that Carson is morally compromised, it is not evident what actually caused his demotion from detective inspector, though one suspects that this was due to decisions and actions similar to ones taken in The Responder. Throughout the series, Carson tries his best to beat the system for the benefit of the druggies and dealers he encounters – even though technically he might be committing crimes in the process.
The writing and characterisation strong and engaging, though in order to engender drama and tension, the plot does paint itself into a corner by the end of the 4th episode. How The Responder resolves the delicate situation that Carson finds himself in ultimately, does stretch the boundaries of the suspension of disbelief. However, by that time, Freeman has made Carson such a likeable character despite his flaws – ‘a knight in shining armour’ as Rachel derides him early on – that the audience might forgive the writing flaws somewhat. Worth the watch!
Now streaming on BBC.
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