Gritty and realistic cop shows are no longer the rarity they once were. Gone are the days of the squad car with the clean cut officers in uniform helping little old ladies across the street and arresting the bad guys. It was a far less complicated time, when cops didn't swear, cheat on their wives, drink too much or have any of the personal problems that seem to affect cops on television these days. Heck, I doubt the boys on Adam-12 could have even told you what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was, let alone be suffering from it after being involved in one too many shoot-outs or seeing one too many corpses.
Nowadays the troubled but honest cop with a checkered history is close to being a cliche. It's amazing there are any cops able to climb into a squad car on television anymore so many of them seem to be in need of therapy of some kind or another. It's come to the point where you have to wonder if there's anything new that can be done with the genre, or at least a way that doesn't flog the same old horse to death. On the surface the six episodes of Murphy's Law, Series 2 to be found on the two-DVD set being released by Acorn Media on April 27, 2010, appear to adhere to the familiar formula.
Tommy Murphy (James Nesbitt) has moved from Ireland to join an elite undercover squad in London in an attempt to put his daughter's murder by the IRA behind him. He's slapped on the stereotypical face of the charming wisecracking Irishman to hide behind while working on some of the most dirty and dangerous jobs the force has to offer. Even better, as far as he's concerned, is the fact his job requires him to take on a different persona for each case, giving him one more barrier he can throw up between himself and the rest of the world. Even with that extra twist, it was still a pleasant surprise to find how little Murphy's Law depended on the "troubled cop" for their story lines.
Instead of spending huge swathes of time watching Murphy agonize at home alone or drink himself into a stupor because of his past, it's merely part of the baggage he carries around with him. Sure there are occasions when it all gets too much for him and he goes on a bender. However, most of the time it comes out in far subtler ways, as in his attitudes towards particular types of criminals or the decisions he makes when on a case. As for the cases themselves, he works in a division of the police force which other cops don't even know exists that functions to investigate suspicious activity to see whether or not a crime has occurred. Murphy's job is to go undercover, blend in with the environment, and ferret out information any way he can. Needless to say his methods tend towards the unorthodox, but as he gets results his superiors usually have no trouble turning a blind eye to his means.