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'No Offence' Offers up Familiar Personalities
April 16, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

Irish actress Elaine Cassidy (top), who was terrific in the recent thriller import Acceptable Risk, tackles a more difficult acting task in another new import, No Offence.
 
No Offence, which becomes available Monday on the streaming service Acorn, was created for Britain’s Channel 4 by Paul Abbott, who is best known lately in The States for creating Showtime’s Shameless.
 
Acorn has promoted No Offence as an outrageous cop show, suggesting it weaves big and sometimes dark comedy in with its policing matters.
 
The comedy inserts emerge gradually as the series moves along, and whatever the dramatic challenges of making that kind of hybrid work, it has scored in the U.K. Two runs of No Offence have already aired there, with a third being filmed as we speak.

At the start, viewers will likely see the show as more crime than chuckles.
 
Cassidy plays Detective Constable (D.C.) Dinah Kowalska, a cop with the Manchester Metropolitan Police. With a sharp sense of people and a keen instinct for her work, Dinah finds herself held back a bit by the male domination of her office hierarchy. So are her boss Vivienne Deering (Joanna Scanlan, above) and her colleague Joy Freers (Alexandra Roach, below).
 
While No Offence doesn’t revolve around feminist themes, some of its humor springs from their periodic response to this situation. More often it springs from the show’s occasionally absurdist treatment of police show clichés and situations.

There’s even a hint of very dark humor in a disturbing early scene where Dinah tries to apprehend a fugitive she spots on the street. While the resolution of her effort will have a considerable ripple effect for Dinah, its climactic moment is not filmed in the manner most viewers would expect.
 
It then becomes the viewer’s choice whether we are seeing an element of karmic humor or whether it’s just a different, perhaps more blunt way of looking at a cop-show scene we’ve witnessed a hundred times before.

For Cassidy and the other actors, this requires never straying from the seriousness of their characters’ police mission while simultaneously leaving openings for moments that can border on satire.
 
Fortunately, the three leading women are up to the task. Cassidy gives Dinah a self-aware intensity, Scanlan makes Vivienne bold and strong enough to take on both criminals and her annoying bosses, and Roach plays Joy with a veneer of timidity that can harden into steel at the moment it’s most necessary.
 
In the larger scope of this first series, which runs eight episodes, our cops realize a killer is targeting women with Down Syndrome. When another woman goes missing, they figure the only way to save her is to identify the perp from the earlier cases.

That ID, however, sends everything in a wholly unexpected direction. While the essence of the case never gets any funnier than the premise, the eventual path involves some humor of the dark variety.
 
Like Shameless, No Offenceis built on characters who in real life might sometimes drive us nuts, but who we can’t help liking because they’re slightly oversized TV-drama versions of people we see every day. Sometimes in the mirror.
 
 
 
 
 
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