Ronald Kidd - June 17, 2022

Capsule Reviews

A Different Kind of Crime Show

A few characters. Three rooms. Dialogue.

These few, spare elements don’t seem like nearly enough to make a compelling TV show. But Netflix’s Criminal series uses only those elements and succeeds brilliantly.

They’re plays, really. We find ourselves in an interrogation room, then in the observation room with its one-way mirror, then in the hallway outside with a broken-down vending machine and stairs.

Investigators question suspects as others observe. The investigators rotate in and out, asking, then watching and discussing. The questions, like the investigators, are quirky and creative, and they elicit answers that veer off in unexpected directions and, ultimately, reveal the truth.

We meet a young woman whose boyfriend has just been shot, a boss whose employee has fallen or been pushed to his death, a successful businessman with a hidden identity, and a dozen other suspects who, at first, seem perfectly innocent.

This formula, if you can call something so varied and intricate a formula, is used in four versions of the show: Criminal UK, Spain, France, and Germany, each consisting of a few episodes. All are shot on the same set in Madrid.  

The actors are different in each version, and we get to know them as the series goes on. As we watch, they search for the truth. So do we.

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