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Arts & Culture

Prime Suspect: Season One, Episode Two

Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison in PRIME SUSPECT.
Courtesy of Executive Program Services
Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison in PRIME SUSPECT.

Airs Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

The tenacious, difficult and brilliant Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) stormed onto PBS in 1992 with PRIME SUSPECT. By the time the series ended in 2006, not only had an iconic character come to worldwide acclaim, but the crime series genre itself had been transformed.

From a new frame on feminism to the illumination of critical social issues, PRIME SUSPECT and Jane Tennison left an indelible impression. Admired by critics and audiences alike, PRIME SUSPECT won more than 20 international awards, including Emmys for "Outstanding Miniseries" and "Outstanding Actress" for Helen Mirren.

In the previous episode of PRIME SUSPECT, Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) was denied the chance to lead a murder investigation -- not the first time she'd been passed over by the men who run Scotland Yard. But when the detective in charge of the case dropped dead of a heart attack, Tennison finally got the break she'd been waiting for. Now she's really got her hands full. Not only does she have a brutal sex crime to solve, but she's working with a police force of men who don't think she's up to the job. Led by the odious Sergeant Otley, they try to sabotage her at every turn.

But Tennison just grits her teeth and starts digging into the case --the rape and murder of a prostitute. Sergeant Otley recognized the victim as Della Mornay and tracked down a suspect -- George Marlow, who swears he left Della very much alive. Since the evidence against him is circumstantial, Tennison must now find more proof. But the whole case turns upside-down when she discovers the victim is not Della Mornay, after all. Even worse, Sergeant Otley knew it and deliberately concealed her true identity -- as well as some important evidence.

The murder victim turns out to be Karen Howard, a young woman of good family. How did she end up in a prostitute's flat? And where is the real Della Mornay? Puzzling questions -- and Tennison doesn't have the answers.

Video Excerpt: Prime Suspect, Episode Two