Rose and Maloney: an alternative take on crime shows

Carly Horne takes a trip down ITV memory lane to discuss the series Rose and Maloney

Carly Horne
23rd March 2021
Credit: Tobias Caldicott on YouTube.
It's early 2002 outside of the Royal Courts of Justice, where Mr Jonathan Rothman is being released from prison following review. Thanks to the diligence of the Criminal Justice Review Agency and its star caseworker, Rose Linden (Sarah Lancashire), the police are now being investigated for misconduct. It's a massive success for the agency.

So imagine Rose's shock when Jonathan quietly confesses to her that he did indeed commit the crime he has just been acquitted of - torturing and killing an elderly couple.

Where Rose is reckless, Maloney is incredibly cautious

Now disgraced, Rose is placed on secondment with a character who couldn't be less like her if he tried, Mr Marion Maloney (Phil Davis). Where Rose is reckless, Maloney is incredibly cautious. Where Maloney works through problems logically, Rose acts on instinct. This creates an almost comical amount of tension between the two, which resurfaces at times throughout the course of the show.

Despite being complete opposites, they still care for each other. Credit: Donna L. Bridges on Pinterest.

In spite of this, Maloney appears to have a bit of a soft spot for Rose. In the pilot, he notices Rose has left her insulin at the office and rushes over to her flat to make sure she has it - even kicking the door in when she is unable to open it. Finding her mid-hypo, he stays by her side until he knows she is safe.

The diabetes storyline was actually quite a nice touch, adding compassion to Maloney's otherwise cold character and vulnerability to Rose's tough-as-boots persona. This storyline bobbed its head above water every now and then during the subsequent seasons, although perhaps more subtlety. For example, Maloney leaving a note on Rose's dinner reading "don't forget insulin" or Rose using it to justify defying the Home Office in season 2.

Best explored is the role of racism in criminal prosecution

Full disclosure, the first season screams of being the show's pilot. Show don't tell has become a bit of a cliche in terms of writing, but just because it's a cliche doesn't mean it's not true. The show seems to be trying to tell you as much as it possibly can about the characters in the shortest time possible. Take Rose, for example; diabetic, can't have children because of badly managed diabetes, fiancé is doing a life sentence in Durham prison, frequently engages in binge drinking and that's just the first episode. Not only this, but for how much we learn explicitly about Rose, we find out very little about Maloney.

Conversely, the following two seasons of the show are lightyears ahead of the pilot season. These seasons take a deep dive into the reasons why miscarriages of justice can occur beyond simply police misconduct. Best explored is the role of racism in criminal prosecution and how difficult it can be to wrap the arms of justice around people with money.

Rose has many inappropriate relationships that often get her in trouble. Credit: FancashireSarah on Instagram.

Additionally, taking a less intense look at the duo's personal lives in the later seasons made them a much more entertaining watch than the pilot season.

Rose, described as "hapless" with her personal life, has a chain of inappropriate relationships - criminals and Home Office officials spring to mind. Frequently facing disciplinary action and getting kicked out of her flat leads her mother, Bea (recast-welcoming Anne Reid to the cast) to express general disappointment in her only child. Binge drinking episodes and general wildness toned down from the pilot, Rose actually becomes quite likeable and relatable thereafter.

Maloney is no better, however, his evident misfortune with women playing a reasonable role throughout the show. He falls first for his colleague, then a woman half his age (who was spying on him for a criminal), his widowed neighbour who moved town after dumping him, and finally settling on Rose. It was great to see Maloney acting a little more human than his whiter-than-white character of season one. None of us are perfect, not even Marion Maloney.

I've yet to find a project involving Sarah Lancashire that isn't at least entertaining

I've yet to find a project involving Sarah Lancashire that isn't at least entertaining, and Rose and Maloney is no different. Phil Davis is also fantastic, playing the quiet and logical case worker who is frequently dragged into Rose's antics. His character's caution and common sense acts nicely to neutralise Rose's penchant for running into very dangerous criminals who usually try to maim one of/ both of the duo.

Rose and Maloney is an interesting take on crime dramas, exploring the fictional equivalent of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and exploring what is now the hot topic of police misconduct. Although far from perfect, Rose and Maloney is a great watch from start to finish.

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  1. I watched Rose and Maloney and thought it was a very good series. I was disappointed that more episodes were not made. Some of today’s TV series are no where as good as this one.

  2. I am 71 years old. An avid film watcher and some TV . This show is in top 4 of super shows that almost anyone could enjoy! Excellent acting, I'm just sorry there are only 3 seasons. Love the characters. Any chance of bringing it back with new seasons? If not, it's a rotten shame.

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