Wire in the Blood
was a British crime thriller series, based on the Tony Hill
novel series by Val McDermid, that ran for six seasons from 2002 to 2008 on ITV
. The central character is an eccentric clinical psychologist named Tony Hill. Tony has such great insight into the minds of the criminals that he often seems sympathetic to them. He is able to mentally become the killer for the purposes of catching him.
There is often tension between Tony and members of the police in the fictional town of Bradfield: Many don't trust his methods, others are put off by his manner. Sometimes Tony himself manages to get himself suspected of a major crime.
Tony is paired with DCI Carol Jordan in seasons 1-3, and Detective Alex Fielding in 4. Both women command the Major Incident Team and act as something of a foil to Tony's flights of deductive imagination. There is an ongoing low-boil romantic tension between him and both women.
The crimes in the show are high-level horror: The investigation of the killer's mental world is prolonged and exacting. The tortures, mutilations and murders are often viscerally sadistic and have a twisted sexual element. They are depicted with meticulous realism, yet depend on the imagination of the viewer to provide the worst elements.
Unlike most shows, which run at 45 minutes per episode, Wire in the Blood
runs at 90 minutes per episode. Given the immense detail used in the stories, the show simply wouldn't work with shorter episodes.
The series was cancelled in 2009 due to ITV's financial troubles.
Contains examples of:
- Alone with the Psycho: Tony ends up alone with serial killers several times. These highly-charged scenes see the physical edge of the serial killer set off against Tony's intelligence and his weaponized empathy.
- Bald of Evil: Peter Vancliff in "Nocebo."
- Benevolent Boss: Brandon in seasons 1 and 2. Carol becomes one upon her promotion to DCI.
- Big Secret: Often a suspect in an investigation has a Dark Secret, completely unrelated to the crime at hand. Typically Tony will be busy into uncovering it when he realizes the real game is miles away and about to go bad.
- Bondage Is Bad: When bondage is addressed, it will be associated with debauchery at best, and with torture, madness and murder at worst.
- Brains and Brawn / Odd Couple: Tony and Carol. The tiny blonde will kick your ass, and the unassuming professor type will kill you with his brain.
- Break the Cutie:
- Tony in "The Mermaids Singing" (both book and show).
- Carol in The Last Temptation (book)
- Paula in The Torment of Others (book)
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Tony weirds people out, but he gets results! Tony doesn't really understand or care about social niceties and will do whatever it takes to get into the heads of serial killers.
- The Coroner: Vernon.
- Death Equals Redemption: Occurs with Maggie Thomas in "Still She Cries". Maggie talks to Tony and helps him with cases because she's obsessed with him and thinks he's in love with her, but she reveals that as she's beginning to regret what she did in killing those people, she's starting to become tormented by their voices. She commits suicide, but uses her final moments to draw Tony a map with her own blood of where he'll find the bodies of her victims.
- Dirty Cop: Plays with the trope in regards to DS Kevin Matthews/Geoffries. In "The Mermaids Singing", Kevin is sleeping with a reporter and leaking case details to her. Both the books and the show deal with his betrayal and his path of returning to Carol's good graces.
- Enemy Mine: In "Justice Painted Blind", Maggie Thomas teams up with Tony to catch a serial killer.
- Evil Counterpart: Mack the Knife from "Bad Seed" is basically evil!Tony.
- Exposition Victim: Tony is the very worst at this. When he gets cornered by a psychotic killer about to torture him to death, his first priority seems to be figuring out why, rather than trying to defend himself.
- Expy: The cannibal psychiatrist from the final series seems to be an Expy of Hannibal Lecter.
- Foil: The women in Tony's life tend to serve as both Greek chorus and conscience to him, as well as highlighting his darker flaws. His scenes with Carol and Alex, as well as Angelica, Maggie, Laura, and Kate, all serve to contrast him with them.
- Forensic Drama: Uncovering forensic evidence often sets up elements of the plot.
- Friendly Enemy: Tony actually stays cordial with a few of the serial killers he has put away; most notably Maggie Thomas and Angelica Bain. He goes to chat with them whenever he is feeling stumped about a case.
- Ghost Extras: The Major Incident Team is quite big, but only six or so of them speak regularly. The other cops keep firmly stum.
- Hannibal Lecture: Killers are given unusually long periods of screentime to give speeches on their worldview.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Tony has acknowledged he has reached this point, though in "Bad Seed", Carol worries she's becoming one as well.
- Identification by Dental Records: Necessitated by the gruesome nature of some killings.
- Jurisdiction Friction: When crimes go into other jurisdictions, you can imagine how well a maverick like Tony goes over. Carol — and later Alex — both encounter internal Jurisdiction Friction from ACC's Brandon and Eden. In "Nothing But the Night", Carol sticks her foot in it when she tells off Yorkshire CID's DCI.
- The Killer Was Left-Handed: Often. The standard Wire In The Blood killer would be an impotent left-hander.
- Left Hanging: While the last episode ends on a somewhat fitting climax, namely: Tony killing his Arch-Enemy, Michael, in self-defense, a lot of tension is still unresolved since killing someone has been Tony's biggest fantasy, and the fact that he has fulfilled it would certainly have some severe consequences for him. It is very unlikely that we will ever know what these consequences would turn to be.
- Loud of War: Tony's paranoid neighbour played loud music all night as a way of getting back at Tony.
- Mama Bear: Alex (with her son, Ben) and Carol (with her team).
- Married to the Job: Carol.
- Murderer P.O.V.: One way for the show to start seeing the murder from the murderer's point of view. Alternatively we get to see a highly significant but cryptic action taken just before or just after.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Angelica Bane.
- Necro Cam: Sometimes, when Tony is doing The Summation and has revealed the guilty party, we will get a Flash Back of the crime being committed, this time with the perpetrator in shot, showing how they did it.
- No Social Skills. Sometimes Tony acts as if he lacks all social skills, particularly when he's preoccupied. Even at his best he gives the impression that ordinary social interaction is something he has written a paper on: he knows what it looks like but not what it is.
- Not So Different: Tony is cleared of the crimes he's suspected of, but he's weird enough that everyone suspects he could be guilty. Mack the Knife in "Bad Seed" points out that Tony really isn't all that different from "the nutters he studies".
- The Profiler: Tony.
- Put on a Bus: People tend to get mysteriously reassigned on this show.
- Annie Reiss between seasons one and two.
- Don Merrick between seasons two and three.
- Carol Jordan between seasons three and four.
- Room Full of Crazy: Towards the end of these movie-length episodes it is fairly common to unearth a Room Full of Crazy that synergizes in with the other horror elements and often redirects the team's attention towards a left-field suspect. It also usually implies someone known to the team is in great danger of being the next target.
- Scare Chord: Constantly. Don't turn your sound up too high while watching this show.
- Serial Killer: Visionary, vigilante, hedonistic, power-needy and more.
- Sex Is Evil: Bedrock assumption for setting the mood.
- Start of Darkness: Explored in some detail and often key to cracking the case.
- Student Teacher Romance: Laura wants one with Tony in "Still She Cries."
- Talking to the Dead: Tony does a lot of this. It can be exceptionally unnerving when the in-world visuals seamlessly drift into what Tony is seeing and who he is talking to.
- To Know Him I Must Become Him: Tony goes way beyond dry analysis to a form of channelling, and there are even scenes where he imagines himself killing — these scenes are emblematic of the series.
- Torture for Fun and Information: Tony, of all people, in "Synchronicity". He convinces a suspect that porridge and jam from the canteen in a plastic bag is actually human brain tissue, and makes the kid vomit. Clearly, the kid is not their sniper.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Tony and Carol.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Carol gives Tony hell in "Bad Seed" for withholding information that almost got a team member killed and might lead to their killer committing suicide.
- Who's Laughing Now?: Killers get their hands on the cops that are hunting them, leading to such scenes.
- Vomiting Cop: Tony gets a variation.