“The Responder,” written by ex-cop Tony Schumacher, follows a car-bound first responder over a few nights, with his life spiraling out of control as he battles what is effectively PTSD. A tableau around the cop, including his family, two drug addicts, a rival cop, a drug dealer friend, and a partner foisted upon him, swirls and builds with a meticulous plotline. But it’s the standout acting performance of Martin Freeman, so gritty and realistic and human, that drives the six-episode series. This is unvarnished reality without melodrama (and featuring accents that almost mandate subtitles), and it works a treat. Over the first four episodes, the dramatic build-up almost becomes unbearable. The camerawork in Liverpool is superb.
A sense of bleakness pervades the series from the outset and it can be grim going in the second and third episodes, but towards the end, a sense of redemption and exhilaration seems to inhabit our hero. The final episode of The Responder is a cracker, and the entire streaming show is highly recommended.