Did we like it?
There were refreshing elements and there was probably enough there to give it a second chance. But truth be told, we were slightly underwhelmed.
What was good about it?
• Astonishingly, it was an ITV drama that didn’t feature Robson Green or Ross Kemp. On top of that, it didn’t star a comic actor going for a straight role, unless you count Ashley Jensen (Maggie off of Extras), but that would be harsh.
• The dynamic between Rachel (Ashley Jensen) and Ian (Patrick Stewart) (although what kind if name is ‘Ian’ for a hero? Ians are footballers or mobile phone salesmen) was interesting. Rachel was supposed to protecting Ian, which led to her sometimes acting like a daughter worried about her ageing Father, while Ian obviously looked fondly on Rachel, as if he was a proud yet cautious father – there was one great line when Ian said: “You looked like Lara Croft,” after she’d shot the window of a car threatening to run down Ian. On top of that there were undeniable and intriguing moments of sexual tension.
• The episode focused on the cloning of humans. This meant there needed to be plenty of exposition and a number of explanations about stem cell research and so forth. It was always going to be difficult to explain issues like this without it seeming clunky, but the writers just about got away with it by having Ian explain things to Rachel.
• Despite the serious, if slightly overblown, subject matter (dead cloned foetuses being found buried in a field) there were some funny lines. For example, Rachel tells Ian that his offer of dinner was very generous: “Well, I was going to put it on expenses,” he replied quietly.
• The explanation of cloning in the womb by Ian using two grapes, the pips and some tweezers. “I use those,” said Rachel weakly.
• Refreshingly, this new drama did not feature murder (as such) or the supernatural, or even aliens.
• Kelly, the single mum who almost died after taking money to carry the cloned foetus, turned in a superbly understated performance – when the focus was on her the drama was at its best and most realistic.
What was bad about it?
• Some particularly clunky lines that stuck out a mile in a largely decent script like: “Ian Hood – Scientist” as if he was James Bond or, “The really dark stuff takes place in a proper lab.” Oooh! The REALLY dark stuff!
• We’re not sure if this is good or bad, but probably bad – as Kelly, the unwitting carrier of a cloned foetus, bled heavily in the shower, the director made several references to Psycho – from the blood running down the plughole to Kelly ripping down the shower curtain as she passed out and fell. We weren’t sure if it was the right time or place for a knowing homage.
• One scene that was quite funny was mishandled badly – Ian was having a drink in a bar and accidentally (or maybe not) pressed his panic button that calls for Rachel. She was up in her hotel room shagging a policeman, but she came sprinting down (pausing to throw on her dressing gown) accompanied by dramatic music. It was plainly obvious nothing was wrong with Ian, so the music was misplaced and took the audience for fools. The scene was there for comic relief and didn’t need to be overloaded – it made us think of Homer Simpson watching TV and saying: “He’s evil Marge, listen to the music!”
• It ultimately felt rather unsatisfying and somewhat rushed. Perhaps dealing with one case each week was a bad decision, because this was a massive case to play out in just 90 minutes, meaning that luck, fortunate hunches and happy coincidences played a large part in bringing about a sharp conclusion.
• Whether it was the fact that Patrick Stewart didn’t look like he was taking this wholly seriously, or the melodramatic characterisation of the ‘evil’ policeman, or the fact that the bad guy character was nicknamed Gepetto, or that when we saw her she looked like Vera Webster out of Superman III (the sister that turned into a robot), this simply wasn’t a particularly gripping 90 minutes of TV. Although maybe the series will settle down now we know the characters.