This review covers the British Broadcasting Channel television mini-series Conviction, which should not be confused with the short-lived U.S. television series Conviction, which was about a group of young and overworked prosecutors set in the Law & Order universe. The British mini-series Conviction is of a very different nature. It was released in 2004 and is made up of six hour long episodes. The mini-series is about a single case and a couple detectives who went too far to get a conviction, vigilante-style. The series has been heralded as an intense psychological show that gets you thinking, draws you in, and doesn't let go. As for my opinion, I enjoyed it a lot, but I do not see it as something I would watch over and over again.
The primary case that is addressed in Conviction is about a twelve year old girl and her death. In the beginning of the story, the detectives arrive at their latest crime scene. A young girl named Angela was stabbed to death. Her vicious killing leaves the local community in an uproar and the detectives responsible for investigating her death emotionally troubled. As they investigate, they are led to Jason Buleigh, a man with a shady past. However, the detectives soon learn they have little evidence to make a case against him.
On the night of Buleigh's release, the detectives celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Joe Payne's (Ian Puleston-Davies) marriage. During the party, Joe has a difficult time enjoying himself. He is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Buleigh is the killer. After several drinks, he convinces fellow detective Chrissie Fairburn (William Ash) to drive him to Buleigh's place. They intend to harass Buleigh, but end up going farther. They take him into the woods and force him to dig a grave. As they became caught up in the heat of the moment, they killed him. Joe and Chrissie struggle with what they did and try to justify it as the right thing to do. At the same time, they hide it from their fellow detectives Robert Seymour (Reece Dinsdale), Lucy Romanis (Laura Fraser), and Ray Fairburn (Nicholas Gleaves).
As the story unfolds, both Chrissie and Joe deal with their actions in their own ways. Trouble brews when it is revealed that Buleigh may have actually innocent. The internal strife becomes increasingly difficulty, as well other complications surface like Chrissie's father and the other detectives. Chrissie's father was passed out drunk in the car, but remembers small details of the night. And while Chrissie and Joe are privy to their dirty deed, the other detectives continue to pursue the killers of Angela and Buleigh. How far will Chrissie and Joe bend their convictions to justify their acts?
What works for Conviction is how well the story unfolds and the acting performances. The primary plotline is addressed very well and actors Puleston-Davies and Ash are solid in their performance as the lead characters. They are convincing and handle their conflict and project strong emotions. In addition to their roles, several of the supporting help give the story a dark, mysterious emotional feeling.
However, while I strongly enjoyed the show and its aspects, I felt there were a couple elements that felt somewhat out of place. For instance, Lucy has a fair amount of screen time dedicated to her back story about falling in love with her confidential informant. While the informant plays a key role in advancing the primary storyline, Lucy's struggle with the ethics of her new relationship felt somewhat out of place and not necessary. On the other hand, there are several strong subplots. For instance, a great example involves Chrissie and Ray's father. He has dementia and struggles with his own experiences and what little he remembers from Buleigh's murder. It is an invigorating aspect and ties in very well with the main plot.
Overall, Conviction is a solid drama that has several strengths and a couple weaknesses. The general storyline is simplistic, but incorporates multiple aspects and portrays emotions well with subplots and strong acting performances. In the end, it makes for a good watch if you enjoy dark, emotional dramas. On that note, while I enjoyed it a lot, I do not see it as having high replay value.
1. Episode 1: The murder squad investigate the brutal stabbing death of a 12 year old girl, quickly coming to the conclusion that a local man with a sordid past may possibly be involved.