For seven seasons, Helen Mirren starred as Jane Tennison in the British television series "Prime Suspect." Created by Lynda La Plante, the series is a police procedural that focuses on Tennison's difficulties not just in solving crime but dealing with the sexist attitudes of those she works with.
Over the weekend, my wife and I watched "Prime Suspect: Tennison" (original title "Prime Suspect 1973"), a prequel to the series starring Mirren. First broadcast in 2017, it was then was picked up by Public Television's "Masterpiece." (We streamed it on Amazon Prime.)
Based on that alternative title, the series concept is fairly obvious: It follows Tennison during her first few months on the job, as a 22-year-old probationary officer. It stars Stephanie Martini as the young Tennison, who has to deal with even worse sexism than her older self. She has to deal with a hard-nosed department sergeant who seems at any moment to flunk her off the force, and even her family is a problem, her mother particularly judgmental of her daughter's decisions.
But over the six-episode series, Tennison — as we knew she would — proves herself capable not just of dealing with police procedure but also of weathering what clearly is an inappropriate relationship.
It would be nice to look forward to a second season. But it's not to be, seeing as La Plante had a falling out with the production company, ITV. Still, we can always read La Plante's novels.
However we experience it, seeing young Tennison slowly develop into the woman she will eventually become is a rich treat.
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