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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Moses Jones, BBC2

Did we like it?
This crept up rather unheralded on to BBC2. Were they ashamed of it? There was certainy no reason to be. This three-part police drama set amid the Ugandan community of London was gripping, dynamic, vivid and exciting. Plus it gave us a chance to rate Matt 'The New Who' Smith.

What was good about it?
• Shaun Parkes shone as Moses, the lugubrious Metropolitan police inspector caught up in the grizzly case of a chopped-up body found in a suitcase in the River Thames.
• Joe Penhall's offbeat story took us to parts of London never seen in other dramas – an immigrant community where paperwork isn't up to scratch, livings are scraped in horrendous circumstances (cleaning urinals as white men urinate above you) and violence overshadows almost every life (although not everyone suffers the misfortune that beset minicab controller Joe, who had his feet whacked with a hammer before being strung up to a ceiling fan).
• The film noir texture, with lots of energetic close-ups, mood setting shots, and dodgy, dark locations.
• The African music that adds urgency and foreboding throughout.

What was bad about it?
• Matt Smith as gawd-blimey London cop Twentyman was totally overshadowed by Parkes. Smith's performance wouldn't have been out of place in The Bill but wasn't good enough for this powerful, dark affair. Moses rightly gives him short shrift for “all this Famous Five, naive, idiot savant stuff".

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