Criminal Record

Criminal Record Is Intentionally Uncomfortable and So Incredibly Addictive

Dept. of Crimes and Misdemeanors


It is an undeniable truth that crime and injustice are an inescapable part of our worldly existence. As much as we try to protect ourselves, we are still reliant on the criminal justice system to keep us safe. But what happens when those systems fail? What happens when corruption, cronyism, and inherent biases infect the system and fail the very people they were supposed to protect? Where does that leave us? It is a question that lies at the very heart of Apple TV Plus’ Criminal Record.

After receiving an anonymous help line call claiming that a man who has been sentenced to 24 years in prison was actually wrongly accused, detective sergeant June Lenker (Cush Jumbo) opens up a case long thought to be closed, only to discover a world full of secrets, sinister cover ups, and racial injustice. It is a road that leads her into conflict with the man who put the man away, DCI Daniel Hagarty (Peter Capaldi).

Thus begins a game of wits. One, determined to put things right and fight the prejudice within the system, while the other, remains hell bent on safeguarding his legacy and protecting all those around him. The result is a stunning game of cat and mouse that plays out across eight incredibly tense, nerve-racking episodes.

Criminal Record

In a landscape that’s chock full of crime fiction, Criminal Record stands apart by not being yet another run-of-the-mill procedural. This isn’t your straightforward murder mystery. And while it won’t be to everyone’s taste, I promise that sticking with it will reward you with intrigue, heartache, and the kind of inescapable conundrums that will haunt you for long after the series ends.

Each part of this complex puzzle is unraveled carefully and with intent. Every reveal is designed to put your head and heart into conflict. It is done in a way that will make you jump to conclusions before forcing you to backtrack and reassess your view of the world. Creator Paul Rutman threads this in a way that will make you question every single moment.

Criminal Record

While Rutman is no stranger to murder mysteries – he’s previously written for shows like Marple and Vera – what he does differently this time around is create a story that focusses on character, drawing intense portraits of everyday people who are faced with impossible decisions.

Peter Capaldi delivers one of the finest performances of his career. While he certainly made his mark as the brash Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, and as The Doctor in Doctor Who, Capaldi brings an air of mystery to this role that has you constantly questioning whether you should be rooting for him or not. Just when you think he might be a good guy, he does something sinister, and vice versa. It’s a performance that is so stoic and enigmatic that it’s hard not to put your heart behind it, even when the character makes some truly questionable decisions.

Facing Capaldi is the more than capable Cush Jumbo. Standing her ground, fighting tooth and nail for what she feels is right, Jumbo brings incredible depth to her role as June Lenker, showing us a side of the police force that often gets lost in all the noise.

The reason this series works so well is because it is rooted in such astounding performances. Both Capaldi and Jumbo are forces of nature. They chew on every word they are given. The steal every scene they are in.

Criminal Record

Criminal Record is very much a crime drama, but Rutman uses the genre as a template to address some very difficult topics, namely the unconscious racism that ends up leading to an imbalance within the justice system. Rutman opens a wound that is very real to many minorities around the world. He tells a story that needs to be told and heard. He makes a point that bears repeating. That the colour of our skin should not determine how we are perceived, or whether or not our voice is heard.

Criminal Record is a story that will sit with you, force you to confront your own biases, and challenge you to make the world a better place. This one is an incredibly uncomfortable watch (as it should be!), but it is also a very important one. Apple TV Plus have started their year off right, further cementing the fact that theirs is a service that really should be at the top of your subscriber list.

Criminal Record is now streaming on Apple TV Plus.

Nick Dorian spent most of his childhood dreaming of being a plumber, mainly because he loved watching Super Mario go on adventures. When he heartbreakingly discovered actual plumbers don't go on great adventures in real life, he went on to sit in front of a TV or movie screen, watching more people go on adventures, and then talk to anybody around him about what he's seen, whether they liked it or not. Fast forward to today, he somehow managed to make watching movies and TV shows, and discussing them, an actual living. Which goes to show, dreams do come true. Except when you dream of being an Italian plumber who fights mushrooms and toads.

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