01/27/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
PBS (Thurs., Jan. 23, 9 P.M. ET)
Those who enjoy reading mystery novels can rest their page-turning digits over the next three weeks as Mystery! unfolds a crackling good British police procedural. After years of demeaning desk assignments, Det. Chief Inspector Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) is finally assigned to head an investigation into the murder of a London prostitute. The case nearly cracks her before she cracks it, in large part because of the barely suppressed hostility of her sexist subordinates. In a nice touch, Mirren even tries to scare up a witness by appearing on one of those call-in crime re-enactment shows on the telly.
With her original script, writer Lynda La Plante has planted many a twist in this canny, well acted and cohesive miniseries, which costars Tom Bell, John Bowe, Zoë Wanamaker (daughter of American actor Sam) and Ian Fitzgibbon. Mirren is particularly strong as a woman who demands the opportunity to compete in a male-dominated field, knowing full well the-exorbitant pressure and scrutiny under which she will be operating.
The British accents and idioms can get dense, but don't let that throw you, you dozy punter. Word is that Mirren and the makers of Prime Suspect are already at work on a sequel. Bully for them.