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Olympic comedy is pure gold

So it's hello London 2012 and goodbye forever Twenty Twelve, writer/director John Morton's brilliantly funny mockumentary about the chaotic preparations for the Olympics.

This has been such a joy it's a pity London can't host the Games every four years, just so we could see more of Morton's hilariously inept characters. Concept-wise, it was a daring move: a comedy series designed to expire just as the event it lampooned is about to begin. Comedy-wise, it flawlessly walked the tightrope between gnawingly close-to-the-bone satire and glorious silliness.

Last year's first series started out looking like it might be just another clone of The Office, then grew in strength to develop a momentum of its own that often presaged what was happening in the real world of Olympics-prepping (the countdown clock breaking down; official bus drivers losing their way; a shortage of security staff; allegations that bomb-detecting X-ray machine operators haven't been properly trained).

Set in the final days before the Deliverance Commission hands over organisational duties to others, the finale found long-suffering team head Ian Fletcher (the superb Hugh Bonneville, giving a masterclass in quiet desperation and crushed hope) wondering if there were any last-minute loose-ends, "apart from the ones we know about".

Mmm, just a few. There were worries that the opening ceremony fireworks might trigger the ground-to-air missiles. "Sometimes maybe the problem is the solution," said Ian. "Is it possible to make ground-to-air missiles part of the display?"

Charging stations for the eco-friendly electric cars, organised by Amelia Bullmore's clueless, dead-eyed Head of Sustainability Kay Hope (some hope!), were so low-powered that 85% of the vehicles would be unusable.

A planned church bell-ringing event called "The Big Bong" attracted two entrants: a crusty music professor who couldn't operate a CD player and a performance artist whose idea was to have the people of London bang household implements at the same time.

PR woman Siobhan Sharpe -- matchless scene-stealer Jessica Hynes whipping up a perfect storm of arrogance and blind stupidity -- wondered if they could "repurpose" the whole thing by bringing in Paul McCartney or Sting ("He's a pussy if you just buy into him -- de doo doo doo, de daa daa daa!"). They got Aled Jones, "the fully grown-up rock legend", as David Tennant's straight-faced voiceover (another wonderful plus) put it. The big question was whether Ian and PA Sally (Olivia Colman) would finally get together. Teasing to the end, Twenty Twelve pulled a Sopranos-style fadeout. But I'd like to think they did. It's sad saying goodbye to these characters. I'd love to see Morton "repurposing" them somewhere else.

Line of Duty also came to an end, and came a little unstuck. After four weeks of far-fetched plot twists mixed in with some gripping drama, a frenzied final episode climaxed with . . . well, more far-fetched plot twists.

Lenny James's DI Gates turned out not be bent after all, just in too deep. The real crooked cop, the one in league with the (unconvincing) Scottish crime boss, was his trusted sidekick Dot.

Gates, having led honest cops DS Arnott (Martin Compston) and DC Fleming (Vicky McClure) to the real wrongdoers, put the series' title in context by throwing himself in front of a lorry so his wife and kids would get an "in the line of duty" payout.

Arnott tried to blow the gaffe on the corruption and cover-up but, as a series of on-screen captions (always a bad idea in a drama) told us, nobody wanted to know and the bad guys basically got away with it.

Line of Duty felt a bit rushed in the end. It might have benefited from a slower pace and more episodes, which seems to work for American cable dramas like The Wire and Homeland. If the BBC could waste 10 weeks last year on the ultimately ridiculous Torchwood: Miracle Day, why not here?



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