Wire in the Blood

The Complete Fourth Season

by Dan MacIntosh

26 February 2008

Dr. Tony Hill – as much cop as psychiatrist -- reveals how profiling criminals can oftentimes be a messy business.

If your only exposure to Robson Green’s work is through that brotherly builder program, Grafters, then you’re in for a real revelation with his Dr. Tony Hill character in Wire In The Blood. Unlike Grafters, where Green plays a smart, but sometimes unethical home remodeling man, he’s cast as a smart criminal profiler in Wire In The Blood. And instead of making a comfortable living as an expert court witness or with a cushy police office job—which his education qualifies him to do—Hill prefers to get his hands dirty by taking a hands-on approach to catching crooks.

Giving his professional opinion about a suspect’s mental state is not nearly enough; once he figures out how a killer’s mind works, he feels compelled to go after the jerk himself.  Hill’s butt-inski approach especially bothers Detective Inspector Alex Fielding, who replaced Carol Jordan in season four, mainly because she is a by-the-book cop. In almost every instance, Fielding sees cases going in an entirely different direction from what Hill’s instincts tell him.

cover art

Wire in the Blood

The Complete Fourth Season

US DVD: 5 Feb 2008

Nevertheless, Hill is almost always right in the end. Such seemingly mystical insights confuse Fielding. She would much rather try and trap killers in traditional ways, such as the undercover cop asked to portray a prostitute in “Torment”.

This fourth season is also particularly noteworthy for its kinky sex cases. “Time to Murder and Create” features a killer that likes to imprison his victims, and gets a thrill out of watching them squirm like rodents stuck in mousetraps. In “Torment”, the killer gets jollies from killing women inch by inch, cut by cut. “Hole In the Heart” trades sexuality for religion, with a series of killings involving highly secretive freemasons. Lastly, “Wounded Surgeon” features a murderer who was seemingly wrongly accused of his crime. Furthermore, his confession is made to appear as though Hill manipulated the suspect into unwillingly confessing to the crimes.

Dr. Tony Hill is portrayed as a man hopelessly married to his work. He has little time for romance during this fourth season, and just when he thinks he’s found his soul mate in “Wounded Surgeon”, this twisted woman turns out to be some kind of mental case, a stalker who has collected all the newspaper clippings for Hill’s various cases. But he has no room for dates because it’s not unusual to find Hill up late at night worrying about a case or out on the streets searching for clues. He’s truly half investigator/half psychiatrist.

Although this is a mystery series, these aren’t mysteries in the classical sense of the term. Granted, there’s plenty of suspense that keeps you guessing whodunit. But graphic CSI touches are also added. Some of the bloody scenes in “Torment” are particularly explicit and not for the faint of heart. In “Hole In The Heart”, a bloody murder victim is shown in a position that makes him look like Jesus hanging on the cross.

There are no bonus features in this package. Instead, the box set contains four DVDs – one for each episode. As these are sophisticated, complicated stories, however, a director’s commentary would have been a great bonus. Even a behind the scenes documentary, one with a little insight about this program’s Northern England setting, might have also heightened the viewing experience. Lastly, an interview with Val McDermid, the author whose books inspired these characters, may have made for a treasured extra.

It is Robson Green that ultimately makes this series into superior television. He gives Dr. Tony Hill an expressive, explosive personality. Whenever the camera focuses intensely on his eyes, you can almost see the intelligent wheels of his mind spinning. He inhabits Hill with a dogged persistence who, like any successful detective, never gives up until all his questions are answered convincingly. Such diligence is just in his blood.

Wire in the Blood


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