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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Above Suspicion, ITV1

Did we like it?
Lynda La Plante's police dramas don't pack the power they once had – but still have cop show clichés in abundance – so this won't live in the memory for long, despite being a reasonable serial killer caper spun out over two and a half hours.

What was good about it?
• Kelly Reilly, a pale-skinned, ginger-haired, pouting beauty, played young cop Anna Travis well. Travis started off as a bit of a silly thing, getting mud over her high heels, being violently ill around dead bodies and being bitched about by her jealous female colleagues. But she developed into an instinctive detective, staying icy calm as she nailed the villain.
• The climactic interview scene was edge-of-the-seat stuff as Travis wheedled a confession out of Jason Durr's actor character who dropped his smarmy voice and charming mannerisms and reverted to his former self, a desperate, northern boy shaped by abuse at the hands of his mother, her violent friends and paedophiles who paid his mother to rape him at the age of seven. One gripe: the power of the scene was suddenly shattered by a commercial break.

What was bad about it?
• Ciaran Hinds didn't really bring much charisma to the role of Travis's boss, DCI Langton. Attempts were made to make him volatile and quirky but they didn't impress.
• La Plante's usual themes of sexism and in-fighting cropped up without anything new being said.
• The overdose on ghastly shots of putrifying bodies.
• Durr's Alan Daniels was a little too 1970s, and the Chicago TV chat show he appeared on was like something out of the 1960s.
• A lot of the characters were a little too conventional/phony, such as the unemotional pathologist, cheeky Cockney detectives, hard-bitten female detective, the dowdy woman who does all the brainy stuff and the alcoholic bent cop (played repulsively by John 'Fred Elliott' Savident).
• The victims were the usual suspects, too – prostitutes and drug addicts plus the obligatory "undeserving victim", a student who missed the last train home.

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