BritBox Duo: "The Last Detective" & "Grace"

Review by Kathleen Costa

It is not just the stay-at-home, worried-about-going-out, what-do-we-do-now issues that make BritBox a favorite entertainment option, it is the variety in genre, era, and level of nail-biting, tears-flowing, or side-splitting reactions. For a reasonable monthly ($6.99) or annual ($69.99) fee, members get access to good quality productions one can watch anywhere on any device. Network or cable television or pay-per-view movies don’t often meet my needs. As an eager Anglophile, I have found old favorites like Are You Being Served, Again, and To the Manor Born, and all-time favorite Good Neighbors to new favorites like Kate and Koji and The Café, from kitchens and gardens to Shakespeare and Christie, and from quiz shows to plays and films. I am a big fan!

What sparks your interest in a show or movie? Is it (A) the genre...comedy, drama, or a combination of both? Is it (B) the theme...detectives, doctors, or a more quirky profession like bus driver or café owner? Is it (C) the setting...big city, countryside, or somewhere on your Bucket List? Is it (D) the actors cast in the lead or supporting roles…icons or fresh out of drama school? Or like me, is it (E) all of the above, and, of course, throw in a British, Irish, Scottish or Aussie accent, and I’m in for a weekend binge. Both The Last Detective and Grace checked off all the right boxes for me.

➡ switch to for more articles ⬅

Image Source BritBox
The Last Detective is an engaging and entertaining detective drama that aired from 2003-2007 based on novels “Dangerous Davies” by Leslie Thomas. The drama lightens up the crime thriller genre with a nice sprinkling of just the right amount of humor: a very quirky friend (Sean Hughes), place-to-live challenges, an in-the-process divorce, and a huge, huge dog he shares custody with his estranged wife (Emma Amos). DC “Dangerous” Davies isn’t really the “last” detective, however, he’s just a “decent man in an indecent world.” When he does a favor for a lonely, old lady, his colleague scoffs “let her go to A&E.” The generational difference in technique, attitude, even getting it right by going way beyond the immediate impressions vs the quick to close a case mindset are painfully obvious. It’s what he signed up for…the work, not being stuck in some office. But, he grates on his superior’s nerves, and is said to be the “last detective” to be given any consequential case, but it’s the inconsequential inquiries that lead to the biggest success…and the least reward.

The Pilot (01:35:12) DC “Dangerous” Davies (Peter Davison) is in hot pursuit of two thieves, one gets away, but the other takes off. Davies follows, but is so out of breath the perp tries to finish the right to silence speech. “I’ve always found you very fair,” the kid says, “It’s a pleasure getting arrested by you.” That illustrates the kind of copper Davies is (honest, not quick to judge), but since it’s more old-school than the new-school knock heads first attitude, he isn’t well respected by his supervisors or mates at the station. However, it is the time he takes and his instincts on those “waste of time” inquires that moves from finding a “wanted” criminal to a cold case missing persons to murder. But, no matter his success, it usually means his “guvnor,” DI Aspinall (Rob Spendlove), is not happy.

Image Source BritBox
Earns 5/5 St. Bernard Dogs. For four seasons (17 episodes; 50+ minutes), The Last Detective remained clever and entertaining with connections one doesn’t see coming and personal stories navigating marital woes, employment issues, and addictions that shed light on the varied personalities. Dangerous takes and closes those “waste of time” cases whether by assignment or curiosity: from missing persons to suspicious deaths, robberies to fraud, and cold cases to a just discovered crime scene, but always testing sanity with a some crazy. Along with his stake outs, discreet interrogations, coddling witnesses, and dog walking, he’s pranked by his colleagues, threatened by his superior, taken advantage by his wife, and evicted which sent me all up and down on the emotion spectrum, but for Dangerous Davies, he handles it well. A favorite I enjoy rewatching.

Image Source BritBox
Grace is a brand new crime drama adapted from the first two novels by Peter James: Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead. Set in Brighton, East Sussex, this series stars John Simm (2006-2007 Life on Mars) as the twenty-five year veteran Detective Chief Superintendent Roy Grace whose personal and professional life are complicated. His wife, Sandy, is missing and has been for six years, but lately he’s been having disturbing dreams recalling that last morning she was with him making it hard for him to entertain moving on. He's also under attack from the press and his superiors for bringing into court issues with the occult. He’d approached a medium named Harold Frame (Adrian Rawlins—James Potter) who the defense characterize as “a dabbler in the dark arts,” and the press has a field day with headlines like “Top Cop Calls Ghost Busters.” However, the “ghost buster” is legit having provided Grace with key details on several occasions making him invaluable, just not publicly acceptable.

Image Source BritBox
Detective Sergeant Glen Branson (Richie Campbell) is a close friend, and although Grace is on desk duty and his supervisor is suggesting he take a promotion elsewhere, Branson hopes his friend, for old times sake, will apply a bit of the “Grace Magic” to help locate a missing person: bachelor party gone wrong with three groomsmen dead, one on life support, and the bridegroom nowhere to be found. The investigation seems right in line with Grace’s skills, but the secrets compounded by liars and a real motive is not easily determined, even with Frame and his swinging pendulum. When things go terribly wrong, Grace is sidelined, but that doesn’t stop him because it’s all about the missing man. His successes do not deter his superiors from keeping a close eye on him along with the press, until the discovery of a body, sans certain parts, and its connection to the darkest corners of the dark web puts the team on high alert. 

Earns 5/5 instinctive Notions. Brilliantly intense storylines in the premier season with some exciting surprises, engaging personal drama, and professional conflicts. John Simm was first introduced to me in the quirky police drama Life on Mars series, and here he portrays his brilliant insight with a very quiet, introspective manner in the likes of Tom Barnaby. With the well-cast ensemble, the trained colleagues all have their responsibilities in the two cases along with a psychic added to the mix. With filming starting in the summer of 2021, the next two Peter James’s books have been commissioned for a second season. I am pleased. It is entertaining and compelling, and a new favorite drama.

Other Gems Not to Miss!

Waiting For God (1990-1994; 47 episodes) follows two spirited residents of Bayview Retirement Village: retired photojournalist (Stephanie Cole) and former accountant (Graham Crowden). Their connection, antics, and general annoyance about their situation is humorous and poignant. Earns 5/5 Quaint Cottages.

Inside No. 9 (2014-2021; 37 episodes) is a dark comedy anthology exploring the number nine with various setting, characters, and implications. Starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, the guest stars are varied with many recognizable British icons. Earns 5/5 Mysterious Numbers.

Ashes to Ashes (2008-2010; 24 episodes) is a fantasy crime drama serving as a sequel to Life on Mars. Officer Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes), shot in the line of duty, wakes up to find herself in the 1980s and shocked to be in the company of officers she only knew about from their police reports. Earns 5/5 Time Travelers. 

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.