You’ve zipped through Endeavour and Peaky Blinders, caught up on The Fall, and Grantchester’s final season isn’t coming soon enough. If you’ve raked over your typical streaming services and still can’t find your next great international police series binge, here are a few hidden gems and popular offerings available to stream in Canada now.
Happy Valley, CBC Gem
Sarah Lancashire stars as the jaded Police Sgt. Catherine Cawood in this Yorkshire-based series, which delivers a gut-punching mix of personal and professional drama. The first two seasons (a third is on the way) follow the law enforcer in the drug-riddled Happy Valley. There, the man she believes responsible for her daughter’s death is released from prison, leading to expected tension and plenty of character growth.
Crime writer Ann Cleeves’s characters come to life in this acclaimed adaptation, which follows DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) and his Shetlander team as they protect the small archipelago. The British Academy Film Awards-nominated series delivered a solid first instalment and has built up its characters and cases over the years (season 8 is coming in 2024), but the stunning landscapes and filming locations are also worthwhile.
The hook to this sometimes ludicrous yet fast-paced series is that it takes place aboard a nuclear submarine, where a death sparks an investigation by the Scottish police, the British navy and government officials. If you can look past some of the glaring inaccuracies and suspend disbelief, however, there’s a lot of potential here – especially as the series revs up for season 2 next year. Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie and Shaun Evans star.
Manhunt, Acorn TV
Crime dramas based on true stories often fall into the trap of sensationalizing murder. Not so with this Martin Clunes-led series, which relies on police memoirs to deliver a whole new narrative. In the first season, the show dramatizes the 2004 case of French student Amélie Delagrange by focusing on the detective work that went into linking her murder with other unsolved, high-profile cases. By season 2 (a third is pending), the story shifts to solving the case of the Night Stalker, a burglar and rapist who terrorized South London for 17 years.
Balthazar, Acorn TV
The trope of the charming but eccentric crime solver has been done to death (pun intended) in North America. Yet, Tomer Sisley’s take on forensic pathologist Raphaël Balthazar in this French series remains charming. The five-season offering (which ended this year) is as much about the relationship between Balthazar and new police commander Hélène Bach (Hélène de Fougerolles) as it is about the pathologist’s unique ability to speak to the dead.
Wire in the Blood, Acorn TV
This series is one of the oldest on the list (it wrapped in 2009), but its six seasons are still worth a watch, particularly for those who like their police dramas with a psychological twist. Robson Green stars as Dr. Tony Hill, a psychologist who delves into the minds of killers and victims alike to help solve serial killings in Northern England. Each episode clocks in at 90 minutes, delivering more nuance and twists than a typical 44-minute format could.
Informer, Prime Video
This six-episode, BAFTA-nominated series subverts its own expectations but stays mostly on track under the lead of three excellent actors: Paddy Considine, Nabhaan Rizwan and Bel Powley. At the top level, this is a show about a young man forced to work undercover for an East London police officer. As the episodes unfold, however, it’s also about racism, the criminal system and power.
Dalgliesh, Acorn TV
For those who like their police formats with an empathetic, period twist, Bertie Carvel stars as the titular DCI in this Acorn original. Based on P.D. James’s long-running bestsellers, the series follows Dalgliesh in 1970s England, where his experience as a widower and acclaimed poet help him to compassionately catch criminals. Two seasons are available to stream now, with a third on tap for 2024.
This exceptional, BAFTA-winning miniseries flips the traditional police drama by honing in on what happens after authorities catch a criminal. Our entry point is Mark Cobden (Sean Bean), a family man and teacher sentenced to four years for accidentally killing a man. He’s ready to accept his fate, but the gritty reality and politics of life behind bars intervene. Meanwhile, Stephen Graham stars as a prison officer with his own personal stakes, setting the scene for an infuriating, if unrealistic, look at the penal system.
Line of Duty, Acorn TV
This critically acclaimed series wrapped after six seasons in 2021, bringing the story of the controversial police anti-corruption unit AC-12 to a close. Over its run, it was nominated for 13 BAFTAs and featured several notable twists, making it one of the most talked about shows across the pond – particularly in season 3.
Special to The Globe and Mail