What we watch says a whole lot about the concerns and passions of the viewers. When you look at the UK right now where the most popular TV dramas are these tense, anti-terrorism, masculine police dramas and one can't help but question how unnerved the people are.
Trigger Point is another propulsive, stress-inducing series from Jed Mercurio, the creator-producer of smash hit shows Bodyguard and Line of Duty. He isn't writing this one, with Daniel Brierly breaking out as writer-creator of this, but the vibe of the series is very much in like with Mercurio's previous work. It even brings Line of Duty star Vicki McClure along for the ride.
In Trigger Point, two teams of EXPO police, these are trained bomb disposal experts, are called to a London tower block where there was a report called in overnight of a bomb factory in one of the apartments. Teams of police pour into the apartment of some guy named Andy Phelan who is nowhere to be found. I don't want to tip the shows hand here, so I'll instead lean into the question that hangs over the first hour of the show: how involved is Mr Phelan and is this bomb factory the work of a lone wolf guy, or part of a bigger terrorist action?
You'll most certainly know the answer to this by the end of the first of the six episodes.
Like Mercurio's other hit shows, this blends very blokey tense action with soapy, inter-personal drama. Here we have two EXPO team members at the core of it, with Vicki McClure and Adrian Lester as former teammates working out of Afganistan who now balance disarming bombs in London with regular revelatory chats about the terrible state of their private lives. Lester's character, the awkwardly named Joel “Nut” Nutkins, has a failed marriage and kids that he is contending with, while McClure's Lana Washington, with a name as TV as a TV character can be named, is clearly dealing with her own personal trauma while also sleeping with a colleague who is far more attached to her than she of him.
While the balance between the personal and the private certainly plays out better here, with the relationships integral to driving elements of plot and character, then they ever do in US network dramas that tread similar ground (and I'm thinking specifically here of how poorly that mix was handled in counter-terrorism drama 24), the conversations bringing those relationship aspects to the story here feel a little awkwardly shoehorned in. Lester's character, specifically, seems desperate to take a break from all that silly bomb disposal business to deliver exposition about his love life. It's just a bit much.
French director Giles Bannier does a great job of keeping the tension high and action rocketing throughout this first episode. At no point will you feel compelled to pick up your phone to look away. It all moves so quickly, with such violent propulsion that you'll never have a chance to even remember you need to finish today's game of Wordle.
Trigger Point has moments of just feeling a little dumb and less sophisticated than it purports to be, but it is never not entertaining, never not gripping. The show is every bit as engaging as TV should aspire to be.
Trigger Point airs weekly in the UK on ITV, can be streamed on ITV Hub, and is available in Australia on streamer Stan.