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Code of a Killer
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Based on a true story, this British drama captures a real-life Eureka moment: the discovery of DNA profiling techniques, now used to solve crimes around the world. David Threlfall (Shameless, Ripper Street) is DCS David Baker, a tenacious detective leading the search for a murderer; John Simm (Life on Mars, State of Play.) is scientist Alec Jeffreys, who unlocks a way to read genetic fingerprints. "Combines gripping drama with the remarkable history of DNA fingerprinting" --Mirror(UK). 3 episodes, 2 1/2 hrs, 1 DVD. SDH.
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John Simm (The Village; Life on Mars) leads, his wife by Anna Madeley (Mr Selfridge; Brideshead Revisited), David Threlfall (Ripper Street) as the lead detective, with detective help from lower ranks played by Robert Glenister (Close to the Enemy; MI-5) and Lorcan Cranitch (Hornblower). Watch for Paul Copley (Downton; Last Tango in Halifax; Broken) as the scientist’s father.
SDH SUBTITLES for all 3 DVD episodes & the ½ hr bonus where you meet the real 2 main characters.
 ==Nov 1983, Narborough teen is murdered and accosted but clues to the perp are few. DCS Baker backs off the investigation to cold case status. Can Leicester Uni Prof Jeffreys save his marriage while engrossed in DNA research?
 ==1986 2nd attack/murder-copycat or serial? Reading DNA code creates viable evidence thanks to Jeffreys’ break through. He’s asked to assist in the 2 murder cases by DSC Baker. Forensic science hits a milestone.
 ==Mass DNA testing in Leichestershire area; the world’s 1st manhunt via DNA. Thousands volunteer to blood testing in the desperate search for a serial killer. Costs escalate, threatening shut-down. Sep 1987 produces a break. A satisfying conclusion-dramatically and in reality. A must own DVD.
6-stars if I could.
The 140-minute film (it is not a “series”) was produced for the commercial UK network, ITV, in 2015 and was originally a two episode series. It was apparently “re-edited” (if that is the correct word) for US TV to become THREE parts, running between 45 and 47 minutes each. On the DVD you can play the whole film, which is what I did.
About 10 years ago Director James Strong made a documentary about the Leicester scientist, Dr. Alec Jeffreys, who discovered DNA fingerprinting in 1984 and how his landmark discovery was used for the first time to capture a criminal. This new film uses those actual events and adds some drama to tell the story. Strong is also the Director of the wonderful BBC series “Broadchurch” and had previously worked with scriptwriter Michael Compton on the “Silent Witness” series.
While I plan to seek out the documentary film (of which I wasn’t aware), I found that the excellent script explains what DNA is in a very easy to understand manner. Most people think DNA was discovered in the 1950s (and probably in the US – rather than a small community of England).
There is some “mystery” here as to who the person was, who raped and killed two 15-year-old girls (two years apart) just a few miles away from each other in the Leistershire town, but that’s not the main purpose of the film; it’s about how the killer was discovered.
Because both the homicide detective and the scientist are still alive, and actually came to the film set, there is a sense that this is as it happened. The DVD version has an excellent 28-minute “behind the scenes” featurette (one of the best of these I’ve seen lately) which includes lots of comments by the two real life characters as well as the actors who play them. The writer and director are both here too.
As I noted above, I’m not a fan of “spoilers”. Each of the three “episodes” has a “:synopsis” on the screen if you choose to play by episode. At least two of these give a spoiler, so I highly recommend that you skip reading these. And do not watch the “bonus feature” until after watching the film. Spoilers abound there.
There is some violence - minimally shown, and one use of graphic language. No nudity. The subtitles were easy to read, thought I found the accents easy to understand and didn't use them.
I don’t remember seeing this series playing on PBS, so I can easily recommend the DVD (again, because of the bonuses). Another fine release from Acorn.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.