Identity

Acorn Media has released the complete series on a two-disc set that’s worth landing on crime fans’ radar. While its concept sounds suspect — stolen identities are investigated — the execution is near-expert. It’s not, as I expected, half-a-dozen hours of people fretting over check fraud. Thankfully, it’s more complicated than that, and the stakes stand far higher.

For instance, a hospitalized middle-aged family woman’s DNA matches that of a known terrorist — a charge she flatly denies. Another involves a swarthy assassin’s plastic surgery, like something out of John Woo’s “Face/Off.” The most disturbing episode deals with a father-daughter relationship that’s too far skewed to one side.

While the similar-looking “CSI” has a theme song that asks, “Who are you? Who who? Who who?,” “Identity” spends all its time answering the question.

But what makes the series is Aidan Gillen (TV’s “The Wire”) as John Bloom, the newest member of the police team headed by Martha Lawson (Keeley Hawes of the great BBC series “MI-5,” exhibiting a fierce Kristin Scott Thomas quality). He’s like the show’s equivalent of “24”’s Jack Bauer: a loose cannon and wonderfully flawed character who uses the most unorthodox methods to extract information.

In other words, he’s unpredictable, making the drama inside the office not without its own twists and turns. As often as Bloom thinks things are “tits up,” the slick series proves itself the opposite: really quite solid. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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