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Saturday, November 8, 2014

'WPC 56' S2 DVD: BBC Drama About Sending in a Woman to do a Traditionally Man's Job

WPC 56 - Series Two DVD
BFS Entertainment, which releases terrific British shows and films on this side of the pond, does fans of quality procedurals a huge solid in releasing the second series (my people call them seasons) of the two season (so far) BBC police drama "WPC 56" roughly six months after releasing the equally awesome first season of "WPC."

As the Unreal TV review of "WPC" S1 explains, the title refers to both the official designation of Midlands police officer Gina Dawson and to her being in pioneer in 1956 by becoming the first woman on that force.

Dawson proving her mettle in S1 episodes largely reduces the degree of employment-related gender-based discrimination that she endures during her first weeks on the job. However, she remains the subject of increasingly assertive sexual advances by a superior officer and does not receive support regarding seeking relief from that behavior.

S2 increases both the connectivity between the season-long story arc and investigations that get wrapped up in an episode or two and the personal involvement of the police officers in those cases.

Dawson's first case of the season involves searching for a runaway 15 year-old girl who seeks to go off with a very clean and polite carny with whom she is in love and who is the victim of multiple beatings orchestrated by the brother of the girl. The carnival (the Brits call them fun fairs) is also the setting of the first depicted drama involving a local politician and the melodramatic involvement of the girlfriend in the tale regarding said elected official.

The season premiere also introduces new kid on the block Detective Inspector Max Harper, who replaces the rapidly departed Detective Inspector Jack Burns, who develops a close relationship with Dawson during the first season. Harper wastes no time in investigating the death of the aforementioned politician.

That investigation quickly puts the Sapphire Club, which is a private facility of which the politician was a member and where his girlfriend worked before disappearing, on the radar of the police. Similar to the primary S1 investigation, Dawson being the only police officer of her gender on the force results in her quickly going to work undercover in the club.

Subsequent crimes, which include a brutal beating and an inflow of counterfeit bills, soon direct the focus of police efforts on "legitimate businessman" and supposedly reformed criminal Lenny Powell.

Other drama, which ties into much of the other action (and to related misconduct by a member of the police force), centers around a local brothel. This aspect of S2 story lines is more "Melrose Place" than "Hill Street Blues" but is entertaining and largely makes sense with the exception of the white slavery element of a subplot.

A storyline that involves an arguably mean-spirited raid on a respectable gay bar serves the same purpose of shining a spotlight on shameful practices of the not-so-distant past as does the depictions of the moderately severe harassment of Dawson on her joining the force.

The mistreatment of the men extends beyond cruel jokes and taunts to locking them up overnight for the sole purpose of making those who are married having to explain to their wives why they did not go home the previous evening. One particularly vindictive act by the police and an equally nasty response by the targeted man contribute to the reprehensible nature of the portrayed incidents regarding this raid.

All of these plots culminate in fast-paced pursuits and associated daring rescue attempts during the last two episodes of S2. These are well executed, make sense, and fulfill the objective of serving as either a good base for a third season or a terrific program finale if more episodes are not to be.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "WPC" is welcome to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.