A tough cop with a knack for attracting trouble. DI Frost is an annoyance to his superiors and a train wreck in his personal life. Disorganized, abrasive and with little respect for authority. He also has the ability to solve almost any crime and a strong sense of justice.
A Touch of Frost is relatively unknown here in the States. Which is a shame because it’s so well made. Dark toned and grim, with typical gallows style cop humor and a jaded view of humanity. Each well written episode follows Denton PD Detective Inspector Frost and his team of investigators as they solve serious crimes.
Short and built like a fireplug, DI Frost is no beauty. But he is certainly capable of charming when he feels like it. You can feel his empathy when he sees the victims of crimes and it frequently becomes more than a job for him, he tends to get so deeply involved in his pursuit of justice, that he neglects his personal life.
His unorthodox, frequently politically incorrect approach to crime solving puts him at odds with his boss, DS Mullet. Who frequently reminds Frost that the only reason he tolerates him at all is because he makes the department (and Mullet) look good due to his incredible high closure rate of high profile cases.
Frost frequently has to outthink and outmaneuver a variety of antagonists. Corruption, serial criminals, violent gangs and some absolutely monstrous criminals populate this show.
Even though it is filmed in color, at times quite bright. The director also loves to use light and shadow, frequently shooting in twilight or near darkness. Also the show is frequently shot on site rather than on a set. The sites chosen vary from slums, dark alleys, abandoned rust belt style factories and dark forests. This frequently gives the show a distinct film noir feel to it.
The music helps the mood as well. Beautiful and haunting, in a style of music sometimes called Jazz Noir. The title theme starts with percussion and dark synth sounds and opens into mournful saxophone played by Barbara Thompson. In my opinion, the perfect sound for a show of this kind.
The show frequently shows the inner workings of the Denton Police Department. Often showing routine mugshots, booze and marijuana busts, line-ups and forensic work typical in any department. It also shows the vicious interoffice politics of any bureaucracy. The pressure from on high to close high profile cases no matter the cost.
DI Frost’s collisions with authority are often of this type. The brass want a quick, easy resolution and are unwilling to take the time needed to properly solve a case.
Another big difference for someone raised on American police dramas, is that there are comparatively few shootouts. Indeed, the detectives in the series are usually unarmed except for a radio, whistle and handcuffs. A far cry from the heavy body armor, assault rifles and car chases of domestic TV series. Frost and his team sometimes face armed opponents and have to rely on their wits to survive the encounter.
Not even a Taser!
Verdict 4 gavels out of 5
If you like your police dramas dark, A Touch of Frost is sure to please. Excellent writing and cast, combined with excellent camera work, sound and music. Unlike many Brit shows, this one ran for 15 seasons, 42 episodes, so there is plenty to binge watch. As of May 3rd 2015, A touch of Frost is streaming on Hulu in the US.