In the 1980s, the early and best days of Taggart, stories were split into three episodes, each an hour long, shown in successive weeks. This template worked extremely well for the clever and complex Glenn Chandler stories, and I was hooked time after time. For me, this remains classic TV crime.
Conversely, the rather stately place of early two-hour single story episodes of Inspector Morse had a different kind of appeal. One was drawn in by the mood of the show, as well as the story-line (and, of course, the superb acting, high-calibre screenplays, and fantastic setting.) This model continues to work brilliantly with Lewis, and overall the Oxford-based series are my favourites in the two-hour format. I’ve also enjoyed Inspector George Gently, and Vera, which are based on the same approach.
The Case Sensitive template has been used, for instance, in the adaptations of the books of two fine writers, Peter Robinson and Mark Billingham. I’m not myself convinced, though, that the two-parter is such a great idea. Really, it’s neither one thing nor the other. The Other Half Lives was watchable, but somehow, I felt, more could have been made of Sophie Hannah’s material.