The Last Detective is a U.K. television program based on the Dangerous Davies novels written by Leslie Thomas. It stars Peter Davison as Detective Constable “Dangerous” Davies and ran for a total of 17 episodes over the course of four series, airing from 2003 through 2007 on ITV. The series have been previously released individually and now are available in a nine-DVD set titled The Complete Collection.
The ironically nicknamed Dangerous is a bit of a bumbler, and remarkably ordinary. He receives little respect from the people in his life. As the first series opens, he is separated from his wife, Julie (Emma Amos), who has already moved on if the different men she has visiting is any indication, but he tries to remain friends. By the last series, Dangerous and Julie have reconciled and he returns to live in their home.
Dangerous is the butt of jokes and teasing by his peers and his superiors, which causes him to be the last detective given assignments, so he usually gets the worst jobs. Naturally as the main character, he is actually a very good detective, even uncovering cases before the police have gotten involved at times. Yet regardless of his successes, he remains at the bottom of the pecking order, which strains believability after a while.
Dangerous’ best friend Mod (Sean Hughes) is a slacker who takes odd jobs and uses his free time to become well read. He gives Dangerous a respite from the personal turmoil in his life, which is usually spend in a pub or a park. The humor between Dangerous and Mod are the highlights of the episodes. In the last series, Mod moves in with Dangerous and Julie.
Watching The Last Detective requires patience because the program is almost devoid of action. The mysteries are mainly solved by people opening up and revealing information to Dangerous with very little prodding required. Viewers that don’t care for blood and violence will be happy to know the crimes usually occur offscreen. There are also odd coincidences. In the pilot, he solves a case by discovering a dead body in a building. It was hard to believe that the murderer hadn’t buried it and instead left it lying around for about 20 years.
There are two bonus features. The first is the 1981 television movie of The Last Detective starring Bernard Cribbins, an older actor who brings more authenticity to the role. There are quite a few differences between the adaptations including Mod being older as well; more humor; more violence, most of which is inflicted upon Dangerous; and the character of his wife has been cut. I enjoyed this version much better and would recommend it over the recent series.
The second feature is of Davison in a 23-minute interview recorded on Halloween 2007 while he was preparing for the role of King Arthur in Spamalot. He talks about The Last Detective and other projects from his resume.