Netflix series Criminal consists of 4 separate 3 episode sets of stories. They are Criminal: UK, Criminal: Germany, Criminal: Spain, and Criminal: France. Each of the episodes uses the same sets, but the cops and the languages change. Every episode is about an interrogation.
The cast and the crimes change for each country, but the interrogation room and the room where the police gather on the back side of a big mirror remain the same. The hallway outside with its coffee and snack machines, operable windows, stairway, and elevator are the same. The cameras, the clocks, the furniture all reused.
The basic action is the same in every episode. A person is being questioned. The police officers might be a man and woman, two men, or two women. Sometimes the officers change in the middle of the interrogation.
The questions are about a crime, but are often designed to probe behind the facade of the person in the hot seat. There’s some secret, something they are hiding, that prevents them from telling the truth about whatever the crime might be. The psychological skills of the officers in seeing what that secret is and ferreting it out are a large part of the procedural aspect of the drama.
I was impressed with the acting from the people being questioned. They only got one episode to be impressive, and every one of them in every locale came through with a great performance. I’d like to single out Hayley Atwell, because I saw her episode early on, but as I watched I realized ALL the suspects were played by brilliant actors.
In each location, the police had time to develop a bit of character and story. The cops were the same for all 3 episodes. Sometimes there would be an episode when one of the officers had a personal connection to a case. There were rivalries, romances, and lots of talking about the best way to crack the suspect among the police officers.
In the UK, the police were played by Katherine Kelly, Nicholas Pinnock, Mark Stanley, Lee Ingleby, and Rochenda Sandall. The criminals being questioned were played by David Tennant, Hayley Atwell, and Youssef Kerkour.
In Criminal: Spain, the cops were played by Emma Suárez, Álvaro Cervantes and others. Two of the criminals were played by Carmen Machi and Inma Cuesta.
In Criminal: Germany, the police were acted by Eva Meckbach, Sylvester Groth, Florence Kasumba, and Jonathan Berlin. The suspects were played by Deniz Arora, Christian Berkel, and Nina Hoss.
The cops in France were played by Mhamed Arezki, Anne Azoulay, Margot Bancilhon, Stéphane Jobert, and Laurent Lucas. The people being questioned were Nathalie Baye, Sara Giraudeau, and Jérémie Renier.
There were several things I liked very much about the way the series is put together. The equal mix of men and women, with racial diversity among both the police and the criminals was good. The crimes were interesting, even though the secrets held by the suspects were often obvious to me long before the police got it. The acting was superb across the board.
Even though each 3 episode series was treated as a separate entity, there was similarity in the writing and directing, the majority of it from Jim Field Smith. The way the interrogations went, with lurches and starts and changes and surprises was consistent across all 12 episodes.
According to Radio Times, “Each episode is written and directed by talent from their respective countries, but the overall series showrunners are Killing Eve’s George Kay and Endeavour’s Jim Field Smith.”
The format used here is infinitely expandable. If these episodes are well received, I predict new episodes featuring new countries.
Here are a couple of trailers.
This one is a cast announcement video. Bad guys only.
Have you watched any or all of these 4 series? What did you think?