138. Murder

Tapehead no 138 

Thames Television’s fly-on-the-wall look at London’s homicide elite Murder Squad returns with the squad’s investigation into the brutal double murder of an elderly Asian couple in Hounslow in 1994. 

Access to the murder scene and the autopsy is so thorough and total it amounts to a gratuitously gory, voyeuristic and nasty experience.

The film is brilliantly edited, with superbly sombre narration by Philip Tibenham, but above all it’s the access that makes it so absorbing.

The murder scene is such that even hardened DIs are left looking shaken as they talk us through it.

“Some blood here, some dragging here…blood seeping under the carpet under this head. Blood splashing up the wall here.”

Asked by a detective to evaluate the perpetrator by the frenzy of the knife attack (carried out using a carving knife and Stanley knife), the pathologist doing the autopsy beams: “in scientific terms, the bloke’s a nutcase.”

The twist in he case is that the mutilated bodies were discovered after two young girls were bound, beaten and raped in the same flat.

“Did he tell any of the girls his name ?” asks the DI rather optimistically of the rapist. (What do you think ?!)

News reports from the time show the police noting “it is not clear if there was a connection between the two crimes”, although it seems pretty bloody clear to Tapehead that there probably was.

The last person to be seen with the girls has walked voluntarily into the cop shop, stating his innocence. 

Instead of laying into him as a pathetic inadequate like Bayliss from Homicide: Life On The Street would do, a police psychologist advises investigator to “build up his status as a serious sex criminal.”

In the meantime “a forensic dentist” (a bite-mark expert) is trying to match the suspect’s teeth with the “quite substantial bite-marks on the body.” 

A specialist search squad is also deployed to search his flat (the suspect’s, not the dentist’s).

Although seeing this could probably help any villains watching, their chief conclusion would probably be: never hide anything down the back of the sofa.

Watch out for the mystical figure in the squad – a blurry man who appears as a silver cloud. This later turns out to be “a detective now working undercover.”

Mind you, about halfway through Tuesday’s episode we hear him speak so let’s hope the gang he’s currently investigating isn’t watching.

True to form, the impossibly irritating Bayliss loses it again in this week’s Homicide: Life On the Street as he investigates the third case of child murder that he and Pembleton have had to struggle with.

Since his stroke Pembleton has degradingly been turned from the super-cool sleuth into a bur-bur-bur-bumbling, clumsy, hot-headed, time bomb. Dealing with Bayliss, though, he’s back to his old (cool) self.

Kellerman’s Grand Jury is finally up but (guess what ?!) it’s really about Bayliss losing it over the case. The denouement is brilliant. Homicide gives the victims in its plotlines a poignancy that British series don’t come close to. 

By the end, you simply think of them as real people.

By comparison, NYPD Blue is looking to o smooth these days, although this week they do have a strange dig at Jay Leno – “that hump !” as Sipowicz calls him.

Sipowicz and Simone have been made in to such great guys that this week they’re trying to get someone out of jail. He’s not even a nice guy. And Simone’s love life is just a pain. There are too many stupid camera swoops and too much “reaching out” – a phrase NYPD Blue invented out of nothing and is now being peddled out in police stations all across America.

The latest addiction to the show’s vocabulary is “I wanted to catch you up on the investigation” (i.e. fill you in). Even wanting to “make a life with you.”

They finish off the case of the girl who answered the door to a moneylender and was “shot through the peephole”, as Simone puts it.

Tapehead is ashamed to say he spends most of the episode assuming this was some sort of obscene metaphor, but for once, it turns out she was just, um, shot through the peephole.



Murder Squad: Tues, 9pm, ITV

Homicide: Life On The Street: Sat,10.30pm, C4

NYPD Blue: Mon, 10pm, C4