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Prime Suspect

7 Seasons

Season 1
4.4 out of 5 stars (441) IMDb 8.5/10

Oscar winner Helen Mirren is detective Jane Tennison, "perhaps the greatest role and performance of a female police detective, ever" (San Francisco Chronicle), in a series that won more than 20 major international awards and raised the bar for police dramas. In the opening series, D.C.I. Tennison seizes the opportunity to head a murder investigation--something she should have done long ago, had she not been passed over by her male superiors time and again. With a suspect already identified and her own team openly hostile, she uncovers errors and conflicting facts that point to a cover-up within the force. Is this a single murder or the latest act of a serial killer? Tennison refuses to back off the investigation. Guest stars include Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, In the Bedroom), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler's List), and Zoe Wanamaker (Poirot).

Starring:
Helen Mirren, Tom Bell

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Season 1

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1. Part 1

In the opening series, D.C.I. Tennison seizes the opportunity to head a murder investigation--something she should have done long ago, had she not been passed over by her male superiors time and again. With a suspect already identified and her own team openly hostile, she uncovers errors and conflicting facts that point to a cover-up within the force. Is this a single murder or the latest act of a serial killer? Tennison refuses to back off the investigation. Guest stars include Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, In the Bedroom), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler's List), and Zoe Wanamaker (Poirot).

TV-NR CC Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes Release date: April 7, 1991
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2. Part 2

In the opening series, D.C.I. Tennison seizes the opportunity to head a murder investigation--something she should have done long ago, had she not been passed over by her male superiors time and again. With a suspect already identified and her own team openly hostile, she uncovers errors and conflicting facts that point to a cover-up within the force. Is this a single murder or the latest act of a serial killer? Tennison refuses to back off the investigation. Guest stars include Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, In the Bedroom), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Schindler's List), and Zoe Wanamaker (Poirot).

TV-NR CC Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes Release date: April 14, 1991
Buy SD $4.99

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Having recently discovered the excellence of such American TV series as The Wire, or Sopranos, I was keen to have a look at one of the first such series, the English one called Prime Suspect, with the fabulous Helen Mirren. Finally I managed to watch series 1 of 1991, not without misgivings: can it have aged well, would it not be dated and antique?
No, it is still as fresh as if it had been done recently. Some things have changed of course. The star looks like 40, not like the queen. And her female cop Jane Tennison struggles against male ignorance among her colleagues on an unimaginable level. No current show would dare to depict men as such stupid idiots.
The 200 minutes of the first series are not broken up in hourly or 45 minutes dosages, but come in just two installments. The plot focuses on just one case. It is a whodunnit, but it is also a procedural and a character study and a social study. Tennison is ambitious, selfish, vain, smart, and we see how she has to be better than her male colleagues in order to get things done. Mirren is outrageously good. If I can I will watch the other seasons too.
If I have to find fault with something: the mood switch among her colleagues, from rejection of her leadership to total support, comes too suddenly out of nowhere. The process could have been shown more convincingly. I think the series The Closer with Keira Sedgwick handled that same motive much better.
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In, "PRIME SUSPECT" Helen Mirren makes the show as Tennison. Obsessed, work-driven, feminist attitude, course, in-your-face drive, believable. Most is man-like rather than the occasional romantic portion which does exist. She's a drinker, and almost never smiles. The cases may not always end to your satisfaction--just like real life crimes and punishment. But you will be on the edge of your seat while you watch. "Prime Suspect" is compelling viewing, ruthless in the detail, definitely not for children and the squeamish, blatantly coarse visually and in dialogue, but oh, so realistic.
Police drama was changed forever by Helen Mirren's as Jane Tennison.

1-Brutal murders, & DCI Tennison gets promoted to head of the murder investigation team after the present leader dies. She takes on a botched investigation, a slippery suspect, a home-front relationship, and proves to have more than what it takes, even being a woman, to male surprise. Loads of blood, mutilated bodies, bare chests (including star Zoe Wanamaker), graphic scenes and language. It's unrated-but be warned. Introduces the woman-at-the-head cop.
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This review is for the whole series ... the first episodes are enjoyable if you like British Police Procedurals. There is a sub-plot of the lone female detective in the "boys club" of the police department ... but after a few episodes the series itself seems vaguely sexist in a creepy way. EVERY murder was some sort of lurid sex-crime rape. EVERY victim in EVERY show is a female who is brutally raped and murdered. I quit watching after the repetition of the rape/murder plot wore thin. This series might have been good if they let Tennison solve different types of murders ... male victims ... money ... blackmail ... drug running ... a little variety might have saved this series. As it is ... it was like watching the same show over and over again ... oh ... another female victim? Let me guess ... she's been brutally raped, tortured, and murdered, right? One show like this I can understand ... but a whole series? Creepy ... and not in a good way.
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PRIME SUSPECT, Series 1, is a tad dated but it has good bones. It was made at a time when England's law-enforcement agencies set about expanding the ethnic and social diversity of their personnel and mission. Thus, some of the gender, race, and class chauvinism that viewers were meant to deplore in gritty dialogue rings hollow now because British law enforcement has entered a new more culturally expansive era as reflected by recent British crime dramas that have disparate settings in the present. Ms. Mirren's performance is impeccable as an ambitious career woman who is dedicated to solving crimes committed against women. Ms. Mirren is supported by a deep bench of reparatory actors whose faces by now have become familiar to public television audiences. There are grisly aspects to the script and cinematography--descriptions of torture, photos of corpses--that make the show inappropriate for children, but such realism serves to vivify the bleakest aspects of homicide investigation. PRIME SUSPECT portrays a police force finding means to solve crimes perpetrated against the poor with as much success as it solves crimes that victimize the rich. Concern for the plight of ordinary working people makes the Series especially affecting.
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The cast in this series is top-notch and the writing is excellent. Each episode has kept me interested and wanting more. I have always been a Helen Mirren fan, but as a rule do not watch series television. However, I took a chance with this series, and am so pleased that I did. The action and the drama are evenly paced and, the actors all seem to actually listen to one another and feed off one another in their interactions. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a good police procedural with a some occasional intrigue thrown in for good measure. I am watching the rest of the series, and so far they are only getting better!
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