Ragdoll, review: grisly crime drama makes merry with the cop show rules

Henry Lloyd-Hughes as DS Nathan Rose in Ragdoll - Natalie Seery/AMC
Henry Lloyd-Hughes as DS Nathan Rose in Ragdoll - Natalie Seery/AMC

If the problem with most crime dramas these days is that they’re all a bit samey, then Ragdoll (Alibi) is your solution. It’s not like any other crime drama out there: it’s not even like itself, most of the time. Line by line, scene by scene, it’s as if someone grabbed the slushpile of promising crime drama scripts, threw them up in the air and picked up pages at random. Total chaos.

By which I mean: count me in, because there are many different types of thriller and in this one the thrill comes from raving bamboozlement. That’s better than no thrill at all.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes plays DS Nathan Rose, a cop who was thwarted by a serial killer a few years ago, had a breakdown and was committed. Now he’s out, back, demoted and working with his friend and former subordinate DI Baxter (the wonderful Thalissa Teixeira). He’s also seeing a shrink, undergoing hypnosis and suffering from flashbacks and anxiety dreams.

One thing that cops with tortured pasts probably shouldn’t do is enter in to a Faustian pact with a shady criminal mastermind cleverly named “Faust” But that’s what Rose appears to have done while he was sectioned. The mind would boggle if only it had time to – it doesn’t, because it’s been rather blindsided by the body in Ragdoll.

This is a statement cadaver, a mix-and-match composite of not two but six different corpses, the head of which has been severed from the serial killer who thwarted Rose in the first place. Minutes later Phil Davis, playing the Mayor of London, explodes into flames. At this point I paused for a nice cup of tea and a bit of respite.

Ragdoll is, as you’ll have gathered, laughably over-the-top but it’s also genuinely funny. By far the best part of it is Rose’s relationship with Baxter. They tell bad jokes, do karaoke and they’re both pleasingly rude to their American underling (Lucy Hale) for no obvious reason. I hope they don’t get together, but I couldn’t possibly guess if they will. Goodness knows what type of drama is going to emerge from all this but in a world of identikit crime shows Ragdoll is a tonic.