The Knock was a mid-late nineties drama focussing on the cases of two HMRC investigation teams and those who they are investigating. Made by the team by the highly successful London's Burning, The Knock featured a cast including ER's Alex Kingston (during series two only), Peter O'Brien (final series only) and Anthony Valentine (the show's main antagonist during the first two series).
During the first series, one of the main characters was Gerry Birch played by David Morrissey. Struggling to cope with the breakdown of his marriage and falling into debt he gets into bed (literally) with those he is investigating and struggled to maintain his double life. Bringing into his dark activities Eddie Barton (played by Bad Girls star Jack Ellis) the pair soon start to reap the rewards and the penalties of turning against the law. The first series charts City and South's investigation into George Webster (Anthony Valentine) whilst also featuring smaller cases that only feature in one or two episodes. The final episode is unique in that it recaps the villains of the series and by the use of an onscreen caption tells you what happened to them (prison sentence length .
The second series introduces possibly its biggest star in Alex Kingston as Katherine Roberts who makes her mark usually in the wrong ways. I remember at the time her performance was very annoying but having re-watched it recently, I was clearly wrong! The increased in length second series is split into two, with the first half wrapping up the loose ends from the first series and the second half introducing a new villain and investigation for the team. The second half of the series isn't as good as the first the villain in Oliver Tobias isn't as charismatic as Valentine. One wonders if the second series could have been shorter?
As soon as she has arrived she is gone as Alex Kingston leaves the show after only one series and with no explanation. The third series is structured differently with a two part story, a four part story and a final standalone episode. The four part story features The Sweeney star Dennis Waterman and former Doctor Who Colin Baker as villains. Both are good in their roles although probably could have done with more screen time and a possibly a story to themselves. The worldwide locations continue to impress even Suffolk is used! (or at least referred to).
Series four sees Malcolm Storry who had been show lead since the beginning leave. His character isn't given a proper send off and is just referred to as having left between series. This is more than Marston Bloom (also an original) is given, his character Arnie disappears without even a mention. Mark Lewis Jones arrives to head City and South although Caroline Lee Johnson becomes show lead in this series and has to face off against Cherie Lunghi. Unfortunately this story line isn't properly finalised and ends the series on a cliff hanger which isn't resolved in the following final series. I found by this fourth series that the series was starting to tire, Michael Brandon's villain is totally inept (all of his plans and schemes keep going wrong which only serves to make him a weak character) and even a variation on the end theme tune can't help in raising the excitement levels.
It's with no great surprise that the fifth (and ultimately final) series was retooled. Out goes the unique title sequence and a new theme and sequence is introduced (it is worth of note that London's Burning also had a similar change around the same time). The Heathrow and City and South teams are dropped in favour of a new team called Indigo which combines four of the old cast members and some new ones. Many of the old cast who are dropped without any reference and City and South are referred to Alpha Team. It seems like the production team were largely trying to distance themselves from the previous four seasons. The final series consisted of only four feature length episodes (as opposed to the previous hour long format). Although advertised at the time as self contained stories, each episode had only one villain/investigation but with linked stories featuring the team throughout. A mole in the team (yes another one) was the main focus of the second story and two of the villains in this series were former soap actors from Eastenders probably an attempt to draw more viewers to the series. Whilst not the show's best series, the fifth series holds it own but could have done with another episode or two. As the final episode was ultimately its last the series ends abruptly so like many of the characters that had gone before, we don't get a final send off for the cast.
The Knock is a unique series; I haven't seen anything like before or since. Its constant use of worldwide locations probably wouldn't be seen in a series these days due to the economic downturn. It makes a nice change from the usual detective series and featured an impressive cast. Definitely worth a look, the first two series are available on Region 2 DVD from Network DVD and if you are in the UK all five series are being repeated on True Entertainment.