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"What's wrong with policemen on television these days? They're always complete opposites. One's of them fat and poor, the other one's thin and posh. One of them's a woman, the other one's a Martian. One of them has four heads, one of them's allergic to heads."
Inspector Fowler

1990s Britcom set in a small-town police station, written by Ben Elton and starring Rowan Atkinson as repressed, old-fashioned but basically decent Police Inspector Raymond Fowler. His nemesis in the series was Inspector Grim, a proto-Gene Hunt type but without the brains. The other regulars were all fellow police officers, including Raymond's longterm and long-suffering cohab girlfriend Sergeant Patricia Dawkins, elderly Constable Gladstone, junior officers Goody and Habib, and Grim's henchman Kray.

The series was apparently modelled on the classic World War II-themed show Dads Army, an ambitious target to live up to. The BBC's website sums up the show as "Should've worked. Didn't."

Not to be confused with the Errol Morris documentary about Dallas police and prosecutors framing a man for murder, nor The Thin Red Line.

Came thirty-fourth in Britains Best Sitcom.

The Thin Blue Line provides examples of:

  • Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male
    • After Patricia discovers the Not What It Looks Like example below, she goes for the rolling pin, and when he argues against her idea of having kids, she hits him with a fish.
    • There's also the scene where Raymond and Kevin upset Patricia and Maggie and are both slapped by their respective women. They didn't even do anything seriously wrong.
  • Against My Religion: Raymond uses this excuse to avoid taking off his hat in "Fire and Terror" after a drunk had puked in it.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game
    • Raymond breaks up a bank robbery in "Rag Week", all the while thinking it's an insane college prank.
    • Inverted in "Fly on the Wall" -- after Fowler talks down the old man with the gun, it turns out that he was going to turn it in to the weapons amnesty program and possibly get on television.
  • Annoying Laugh: DC Kray, very much so.
  • Away in a Manger: In "Yuletide Spirit", a travelling hippie couple arrive in the station on Christmas Eve. Naturally, the woman is heavily pregnant and goes into labor.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Goody actually punches a skinhead for insulting Habib.
  • Being Personal Isn't Professional: Inspector Fowler at times, in one instance pointing out that, as his girlfriend wanted his advice partly as her comanding officer and partly as her boyfriend, he will have to give her one opinion now and one at lunch, as he is not being paid to be her boyfriend.
  • Boldly Coming: Brought up briefly during the briefing in "Ism Ism Ism".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The episodes of the second series started with Inspector Fowler delivering a short intro to the audience, often ending with a very strange simile.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Grim's group, the Todgers, whose ceremonies involve putting on a dress and kissing a dead turkey's butt.
  • Camp Straight: Kevin Goody, while supremely camp, is straight (and very surprised that his colleagues might have thought he was gay).
  • The Cape: Raymond, or at least Raymond's self-image.
  • The Ditz: Constable Goody
  • Double Entendre: Fowler and Grim make these all the time, usually unintentionally. "My arse is on the line and I don't want a cock up..."
  • Engineered Public Confession: Parodied when Raymond tries to record Grim's confession, but after showing the tape recorder at the end he finds out it didn't record anything, since the tape recorder required pressing record and play simultaneously to start.
  • Firemen Are Hot: Unfortunately for Habib, this one also fancies Constable Goody.
  • Freudian Slip: After the sex therapist Fowler and Patricia are seeing starts stripping -- "Thank you, Constable Nipple."
  • Honey Trap: Grim tries pulling one by using Habib, only to have it backfire when the mark drags Habib in to be charged.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    • At one point, Grim is needling Raymond about his divorce and slightly distant relationship with his son, whom Raymond is worried is turning a bit wild. Grim makes a lot of hay about how he's a devoted family man who is always there for his sons. On an unrelated matter, guess who's loutish son just got arrested for disturbing the peace...? Raymond's son, incidentally, turns out to be studying to try and get into university; turns out Raymond's worries were a bit hyperactive anyway.
    • "Ism Ism Ism" has Grim arguing against "weird customs and funny clothes" in the police force, then turns around and tries to demonstrate his initiation ceremony for the Todgers.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Patricia tries to improve her sex life with Raymond by coming to bed in a silk nightie. Unfortunately, it doesn't get his attention until she mentions how much it cost...
  • In Medias Res
  • Innocent Innuendo
  • Ironic Echo: When Fowler finally settles the ethical dilemma that's been troubling him over the Honey Trap that Grim has set up and declares he wants no further part in the operation, Grim gloatingly replies that he'll hold Fowler to his promise that Grim will get 'full and complete credit' for the operation. Then, Habib drags the mark in, appearing to validate Grim -- until the mark points out that he's seen through Habib and has in fact dragged her in as part of a citizen's arrest. Fowler decides it a good time to remind Grim that he's now taking 'full and complete credit' for the operation.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: When the Engineered Public Confession doesn't work, Fowler gets the case thrown out by revealing that Goody was still wearing the prototype uniform that he was modeling when he found the planted evidence.
  • Magic Negro: Constable Frank Gladstone, thankfully to a very mild degree.
  • Malaproper: Inspector Grim
  • Military Alphabet: Subverted when it turns out to be requests for drinks from a pizza place. "Tango. Tango. Lilt and a Fanta."
  • Mistaken for Racist: When the Mayoress orders Raymond to arrest an illegal immigrant, she forgets to give him a description of what the man looks like, so he and his officers just arrest the man who opened the door. Unfortunately, he not only isn't the illegal alien, he's also black and the European Commissioner for Human Rights. Learning of the man's real identity, Raymond is horrified: "A Frenchman? In my station?!"
  • Mixed Metaphor: Something Grim is good at.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Patricia
  • Noodle Incident: Several referances are made to Gladstone's marriage, including his objecting at his own ceremony.
  • Not What It Sounds Like: After Boyle sets Fowler straight (see Engineered Public Confession), the Mayoress comes in, looking for a plea bargin. The conversation, in which she demands that Raymond "give it [the plea bargain] to me" and his assurances that she'll be "more than satisfied" (with the loophole of Goody wearing an unofficial uniform during the bust) gets recorded over Patricia's morning workout.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: While talking about the teenager they picked up for "joy-riding" in "Night Shift", Goody rambles briefly about the trouble broken families lead to before remembering that Fowler is a divorced father.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: To be fair, Fowler's rigid adherence to proper procedure is rooted in a heartfelt belief in things like due process, rule of law, work ethics and other unglamourous but socially beneficial principles. He just has a tendency to take it a teensy bit too far at times....
  • Odd Couple: Despite Fowler's page quote above, he has his own Odd Couple-style relationship with Grim, based on their respective Old-Fashioned Copper styles.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper
    • Derek Grim and his loathing of modern "fannying about".
    • Fowler's an even more old-fashioned cop; he, however, is old-fashioned in the "Dixon of Dock Green" fashion.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Twice, both involving Goody. The first is when Fowler accidentally gets the gift of lingerie he'd meant for Habib, and the second is when he tries to decide whether or not to go to an illegal lock-in.
  • Only Sane Man: Although Fowler usually has his head screwed on straight enough, Habib's a lot more down-to-earth and self-aware.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: One of the many ways Grim mangles the English language.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Derek Grim
  • Strictly Formula
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kray was replaced with Boyle for series two. The general opinion is that Boyle was a lot funnier.
  • Title Drop: In the very first episode.

 Fowler: In the grand order of life there are but two forces: those of order, and those of chaos. And between them there lies us, the thin blue line.

(Goody immediately points out that that means three forces.)
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