May 3rd, 2011
|01:48 pm - Three mysteries|
Turning from the terrors of reality to the delights of made up nonsense on television, there are three new crime dramas out this week: Exile, Vera and Case Sensitive.
Exile was my favourite because - well, it stars John Simm. It's a three-parter told over three nights, final ep tonight. It's about a disgraced coke-addled journalist (Simm) who moves in with his sister played by Olivia Colman (from Peep Show) to help look after his father who is suffering from Alzheimer's. The dad is played by Jim Broadbent. So all three, Simm, Colman and Broadbent, are excellent. The plot is pretty good - the dad was involved in some hushed up scandal long ago, and they are trying to get him to remember it. Overall what makes this is the acting and the visuals. I know - this might make you roll your eyes like lemons in a slot machine - but John Simm has never looked finer. What a treat. What a visual treat.
Vera was not quite so well written, I thought, it was less plausible and more hokey. However, it stars powerful Brenda Blethyn as a female detective, and she is super. It's so, so great to see decent roles going to older women on telly. And it's a complex multi-dimensional characterisation. Also lovely to see the beautiful Northumberland scenery. I think this is a series, with a different story presented each episode.
Case Sensitive was - I didn't quite get a handle on it yet - well cast, interesting, an even more conflicted and complex female detective. Too early to say. It might be going somewhere interesting, or it might just be confused about what it's trying to say and do. Visually and textually this resembles the Euro-Crime I have been watching lately, perhaps the French series Spiral most strongly. The female lead and her side-kick had an unwise sexual encounter a day or so prior to the timeline of the show, there's masses of adultery and artistic violent death - in fact it really resembles a French show. It's a two-parter, not sure if it will come back another time.
|Date:||May 3rd, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)|| |
We only saw Vera and Case Sensitive. Vera herself was fab, as you say, a bit like a rural Frost only better organised. I've a feeling the plot of ep1 might not bear close examination, but you can't have everything.
Case Sensitive could be great or a load of cobblers, depending entirely on whether the plot works or not. At least I care enough to find out, which must be a good sign.
That female lead was a strange character, because she seemed incredibly flaky and not very competent. I am assuming she will turn out to be brilliant all along, otherwise it's going to be a strange show.
I was hopeful for Vera, but I thought the first episode was quite disappointing. I got the impression it was aiming for Wallander but missed and got Wycliffe. It was nice to see an older woman in the detective role, but the character felt quite cliched, so far, though Blethyn does give it a lot of presence. I did like the idea of a male young sidekick who keeps having to deal with fatherhood, but it was handled rather clumsily. And the plot was dreadful.
Blethyn is such a good actor, and it was nice to see Gina wassisname from Our Friend in the North.
She's good isn't she? Unfortunately I was remembering her from a similar role in Lewis, which is the slot Vera's taken over.
|Date:||May 3rd, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)|| |
Watching Case Sensitive, most confused by the 'twist' of Rupert Graves not actually being a bad guy. I'm sure I must be forgetting some of his roles in things, but he does always look like a wrong 'un and usually is.
Found both ITV dramas sufficiently watchable for my current crime kick - I'll be back for more Vera solely for Brenda Blethyn, though it may be down to 'watched while internetting'. Saving Exile in case I can persuade the boy to join me for that cast, though he says he finds watching altzheimers on screen hard so not sure he is keen.
Sorry - missed this comment earlier. I agree about Rupert Graves. In fact I thought every role was cast with a consciousness of 'what kind of role that person has played before' if you see what I mean - the non-guilty prof was played by a guy who always plays supercilious and shady characters, the side-kick is the token guy in feminist shows like Smack the Pony and so on.
I watched Exile today and though the family stuff was much better than the mystery, which resolved with something of a damp squib. It's got a lot of weak points on the former front as well - I didn't buy the central romance at all, which completely ignored the fact that Simm's love interest has kids - but these are easier to ignore in the face of Simm at the center of the story and his great scenes with Colman. I do wonder, however, whether the father's part needed to be played by someone of Jim Broadbent's caliber. It seems like the sort of showy role that wastes his talents and just makes him a garden variety pitiable lunatic.
I thought they made a mistake casting a relatively young actress as the mother. I didn't ultimately think Broadbent was wasted, because they needed him to nuance up and down through various levels of lucidity, but I do see what you mean.
The love interest's age didn't bother as much as the fact that neither she nor he gave any thought to the fact that their romance comes with kids attached. It's one thing for a hard-hearted, selfish bastard to suddenly find love, and quite another to take on a stepfather role, much less to his best friend's children. That felt like a whole other story that the mini just ignored because there was no room for it.
I don't mean to say that there was no challenge to the father's role, but I think a much lesser actor than Broadbent could have handled it. It feels as if he was chosen for some combination of his star power and the fact that the audience has certain associations, mainly 'amiable older man' with him.