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from “Prime Suspect I”

Becoming a Dinosaur

Jane Tennison, born 1950, joins the police force and starts a career. She makes her way through the ranks. It’s a hard and bumpy road she has to manage in a men’s world. However, she is successful at the price of becoming as ruthless and deceitful as her male colleagues.

When in her 40s she is finally a DCI; later she even becomes a DSI. Mid of her 50s she resigns into her well-deserved retirement – purportedly. At this point in her life she is no longer a young aspiring police officer, open to anything to solve any crime which is tossed on her desk. During her last years in the force she becomes calculating, evaluating her chances for her future. A case becomes a vehicle for her career. At the same time she somehow loses her grip on modern police work; working with IT research in data bases, trailing smartphones and all this CSI stuff is foreign to her nature. She is a dinosaur in this new world.

The TV series Prime Suspect covers about 15 years of Jane Tennison’s life. It’s her life as a DCI resp. DSI. I never read any novels about Jane Tennison although there are some – only the TV series formed my experience. Therefore when thinking of Jane Tennison I always have Helen Mirren in my mind. She represented Jane for the whole series maturing with dignity. Also some of the other protagonists i. e. her male colleagues reappear time and time again, stepping up the career ladder and growing older. During the series the whole police force changes and their people have to adapt to modern times.

As is usually the case nowadays there is a spin-off The Young … So there are some novels about Jane at the beginning fo her career and there is a TV series. I’ve never read or watched any of these. My focus – once again – is the original TV series.

Jane has got a family, but she loses sight of her father and her sister … At the end she is alone. Her father died. Her sister is tired of Jane’s preferences which don’t cover her personal life.

The same is true for any relationships. Jane is reckless when working a case and her partners as well as their children have to stand back. Be sure that it won’t become a happy ending, every time. Even once when she gets pregnant without intention – of course – she doesn’t think it over too long.

At the end she is alone – alone with many bottles. A while she slides deeper and deeper into the valley of comfortable relaxation. Suddenly there are obvious consequences in the office and only because some members of her team cover up a real disaster is circumvented. Jane bears the consequences and starts regular walks to AA meetings where she – surprise, surprise – meets an colleague from her past.Then he wasn’t amused by getting Jane as his boss, but now …

Jane lives her whole life in a men’s world. GB’s police is a men’s world. Jane isn’t happy with minor cases and dirty work which nobody like to straighten up. She aims for more, the big cases, the show cases, the cases which will pave your way to career. Be sure she’ll get her chance – and ends up in a hornets’ nest.

The police force is a community of its own during the 90s. Many a colleague has his very own and special business interests somewhere in this grey zone between law and order and crime. If somebody like Jane tries to lift the covering – maybe because a dead body turns up – these colleagues react at once and powerful. There are cliques, there are former colleagues, there is unfinished business among many colleagues, there are favors to be called on …

Jane struggles, however, she learns how to deal with this tangled web of camaraderie and the benefits of turning a bling eye on criminals. Of course she is transferred somewhere … far away, but she returns and knows how to play to become a DSI. At the end Jane deployed successfully some of the methods her more shady colleagues used to survive and live a comfortable life.

Her cases? She deals with prostitution, all the trash spilling out of council housing, child molestation, missing children, drug dealing … On top there are sexist colleagues …

At the end Jane walks away. She skips her farewell party and just leaves the building. Plans? Does she have any plans for her life? Without her work there seems to be the big emptiness. However, nobody knows …

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare