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Does it live up to season 1?

The commenter, a BBC police drama that broke out of the police procedural mold, is back for another long, dark stint on the night shift. Martin Freeman has dusted off his Scouse accent to reprise his BAFTA-nominated role as Chris Carson, a 999-response cop with a knack for finding chaos and then delving into it.

But with the second season, Chris wants to get out of the hellish police car and get a nice, normal job at a desk in the Liverpool area so he can have some semblance of a relationship with his daughter.

Everyone has become even more defeated in the six months since the events of the first season took place. Former judgmental rookie Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo) is most notable, working a grinding job while dealing with the wounds of her abusive relationship.

adelayo adedayo, the responder, season 2

BBC

Jodie (Faye McKeever) has tried to walk the straight and narrow with a high-end new dessert shop, but there just aren’t the same numbers for ice cream as for her more crooked goods.

Josh Finan is back as Marco, decidedly different as the Scouse drug cartel lackey than he was as dim-witted Jethro in The gentlemen. He’s become a new dad since we last saw him, but he doesn’t come around easily and has to learn how to change a diaper from a neighbor.

The best thing about the new cast additions for the second season is The gold‘s Adam Nagaitis, who fills the dastardly void left by Ian Hart’s Carl Sweeney. Nagaitis has mastered the syrupy smile seen in every other show – see his heartbreaking turn as a firefighter in Chernobyl – would be completely disarming, but this portends doom.

He plays Franny, a plasterer by day and an international drug dealer by night. Since Chris encounters him at night, the result is both incredibly frustrating and depressing. So in that regard, not much has changed since season one.

Martin Freeman, Adam Nagaitis, The Responder, Season 2

BBC

Freeman is as convincing as ever in a role that plays completely against the meek Bilbo Baggins and outdated Everett K Ross types. The accent remains, as do the haunted eyes with the traces of fear, worry and fatigue underneath.

Despite his attempts to break free, the nocturnal life of response work continues to drag him down. Chris has a Howard Ratner in his house. Uncut gemstones approach, where every decision he makes is seemingly chosen for maximum stress and minimum benefit.

Freeman and Adedayo have brilliant and unlikely moments of bonding in the police car, even as he gets them into trouble that could very well get them fired. Yet the second season is also willing to turn the camera away from Chris and onto the carnage unfolding in the lives of the characters around him.

mayanna buring, martin freeman, the responder, season 2

BBC

The relentless nightmare of work – rushing from one impossible situation to another – has an element of repetition.

That could be because it’s the second season or because we’re hot on the heels of it Blue lights season two, which also takes place in the murky waters of police work and isn’t everything Line of duty thinks it’s a flop.

The sting of that first season of The commenter has faded a bit, even if the message is as prescient as ever. Officers respond to mental health calls. Officers are arrested because they have difficulty affording clothes for their children. Officers whose personal lives fall apart under the pressure of tough police action.

If you enjoyed the first season, you’ll enjoy this one too. If that was a little too bleak for you, be warned: Tony Schumacher, the former response officer turned show creator, hasn’t suddenly decided to set his characters’ world in order.

4 stars

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The commenter airs on BBC One and streams on iPlayer from May 5.

Portrait photo of Rebecca Cook

Deputy TV editor

Formerly a TV reporter at The mirrorRebecca can now be found providing expert analysis of the TV landscape Digital spywhile on the BBC or Times Radio she doesn’t talk about anything from the final season of Bridgerton or The White Lotus for whatever chaos unfolds in the different Love Island villas.

When she’s not binging on a box set, Rebecca’s sightings in the wild include stints on the National TV Awards and the BAFTA red carpets, and post-match video explainers from the reality TV we all watch to look.