thu 04/06/2020

Code 404, Sky One review - surreal cop comedy presses the right buttons | reviews, news & interviews

Code 404, Sky One review - surreal cop comedy presses the right buttons

Code 404, Sky One review - surreal cop comedy presses the right buttons

Robo copper's a bit glitchy: Daniel Mays and Stephen Graham star

Error, file not found: detectives Major (Daniel Mays) and Carver (Stephen Graham)

DI John Major (Daniel Mays) has been dead a year, shot in the line of duty, though we’re far from that series in terms of tone. Now he’s back at the London Met, artificially augmented, but not very intelligently. If anything he’s a bit more shit than he was before, as one of those involved in the shooting observes.

DI John Major (Daniel Mays) has been dead a year, shot in the line of duty, though we’re far from that series in terms of tone. Now he’s back at the London Met, artificially augmented, but not very intelligently. If anything he’s a bit more shit than he was before, as one of those involved in the shooting observes.

“Think of me as Oscar Pistorius,” he encourages his wife Kelly (Anna Maxwell Martin) who’s strangely reluctant to welcome the new part-AI him back home, probably because she and his partner DI Roy Carver (Stephen Graham) are in a relationship. In fact on the night he was shot, they’d had a bust-up about it but Major’s memory is conveniently hazy on that score.

Code 404’s humour (the script is by Daniel Peak; Horrible Histories and Not Going Out) is wacky and wonderful and In these troubled times it presses all the right buttons. Mays and Graham are, as we know from Line of Duty, a brilliantly mismatched ensemble, with squidgy-faced Mays towering over Graham, and Maxwell Martin is on top form as the wife who’s been too busy to grieve, what with extending the kitchen, converting the attic and knocking back Pinot Grigio with Carver.code404Major’s reboot under the hands of Dr Parfitt (Amanda Payton, pictured above) – “She’s an American” is how the boss (Rosie Cavaliero) introduces her - has left him glitchy and impaired. He can’t work the luggage handle on his wheelie suitcase and is prone, to Carver’s fury, to Americanisms: diaper, attorney, realtor, pissed and, crucially, driving on the right. “Try not to get him wet,” the good doctor advises Carver as they set out to hunt down his killer.

Major tries desperately to remember the name that was muttered into his ear before he was shot. “Blumenthal,” he tells Carver triumphantly. “Heston Blumenthal.” No, sighs Carver. Well, what about Rick Stein? Ken Hom? But all is not lost – the joke he’s been saving up is given an airing at last when they confront Liam Cleasby (Richard Gadd), one of the drug dealers involved in their previous undercover mission. “Jesus,” he gasps when he sees the assumed-deceased detective. “No, but we both came back from the dead,” quips Major, smiling gleefully.

The murder case – or is it a murder case, as the victim is now alive? - has been taken over, in fact, by bent coppers Gilbert (Steve Oram) and Ryle (Emily Lloyd-Saini) who never tire of mocking Major’s new computerised self. “Inspector Gadget, have you tried switching yourself off and on again?” is about their level of wit, but it doesn’t flag. And later in the series a suave Tracy Ann Oberman appears as Chalmers, the head of the AI unit, who holds the power to switch Major off for good. Don’t do it!

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