Ragdoll, at first glance, is yet another British thriller about cops hunting a serial killer. You know the drill: the cops are deadly earnest but flawed as the killer taunts them until they finally track him down. That's what you expect from a cop show from the BBC or ITV. What's unexpected is the snarky dark humour and wise-cracking cops that elevate the show into something that's extremely entertaining. Maybe it's because this show is produced by AMC and the UK crime show cable network Alibi that they could do something a little different to distinguish themselves from the usual po-faced propaganda that the BBC & ITV churn out.
Harry Lloyd-Hughes plays DCI Nathan Rose, the archetypal maverick cop, fresh out of the mental institution still with PTSD after he beat up a serial killer in court and his ethical violations set the suspect free. He joins a new case where the body is stitched together from several different bodies, so the killer is termed "Ragdoll" after a strenuous contest between the cops to give him a nickname. In case you were wondering, it was the guy from the IT department who won. He and his partner DI Baxter (Thalissa Teixeira) are given a former LAPD transplant turned London Metropolitan rookie Constable Edmunds (Lucy Hale). Rose and Baxter slip into the mode of snarky cop parents to Edmunds as their surrogate cop daughter with her own brand of deadpan American banter. Rose also turns out to have ties to the Ragdoll killer who names him as a final name on a list of planned victims.
The show moves at a faster, slicker pace with attention-getting nastiness that doesn't dwell on the grimness that a BBC or ITV show likes to wallow in. The real attraction here is the dark humour and wisecracks the main trio engage in, and Lucy Hale gives a different, more layered performance than her other roles. Here she plays an American fish out of water who holds her own with her more jaded Brit mentors with unexpected comic timing. The world is cranked up to a hyperreal fantasy with wildly over-the-top violence and elaborate schemes by the serial killer. You get the idea what kind of tone the show is after when it features Phil Davis playing the Mayor of London as a skeezier, Cockney version of Boris Johnson when he used to be the mayor. The serial killer is an urban legend who turns out to be real, which Rose discovers a little too late back when he was on meds in the loony bin.
In short, this show is entertainingly NUTS! Considering how serial killer cop shows are a dime-a-dozen on UK TV these days and always treated with the solemnity of someone declaring they have cancer, Ragdoll knows it's ridiculous and milks it with enough of a straight face to stop short of becoming an outright spoof to be more fun than more grimdark shows. Ragdoll is streaming in the US on AMC+ but it might get buried under the sheer volume of streaming channels & content so make sure to look for it.