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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Sky Atlantic's Falcón: Style over Substance?

Sky Atlantic's latest offering is based on Robert Wilson's critically acclaimed series of novels. Marton Csokas stars as Javier Falcón who actually is fairly good in the lead role, but the character doesn't actually leave you liking him. This goes for most of the characters, you simply don't care for any of them. There isn't one that I came away thinking I liked them.

Falcón opens our main character standing in a bull fighting ring watching a matador rehearsing his moves interspersed with clips of a statue of the virgin Mary being carried in a parade Alll this filmed with orange
tints and searing letters in the credits. The series is set in Seville. All of the characters have Spanish names and if that weren't enough of a clue then you may spot words like. 'Policia' written on police vests. Despite the efforts to point out the setting, they have seemed to have picked the only area of Spain where everyone speaks perfect English without a hint of an acssent. It's another aspect of the series that I couldn't get my head around.

When the main mystery element of the plot kicked in I thought things might improve but if I'm honest I even found this side of Falcon a bore and by the time the killer was revealed I was struggling to keep my eyes open. The series has echos of the short lived BBC1 crime drama Zen which was also set in a visually exciting  foreign country but ultimately didn't serve it's surroundings.

It's clear that director Pete Travis wants the series to be bold & stylish. Sometimes this works but more often than not his efforts feel more like style of substance. Even the music was a distraction. It wasn't so much music as a constant drone in an attempt to build tension that I wasn't aware was there.

The hand held camera style adopted by the director was another irritant, together with over eager cutting between cameras at one point I felt so nauseous I had to pause it until my stomach settled again.

Sky chose to split the story into two 60 minute episodes. It's not an unsual decision to make they did the same with A Touch of Cloth recently, but in this case this I didn't feel there was enough in part one to warrant me returning for the conclusion.  Though I've been very critical of this weak opener I feel I must give Sky some credit for even attempting this ambitious drama. It's an flawed project but it's something I suspect other channels wouldn't ever consider commissioning.

The follow up will be 'Falcón: Silent & The Damned' and will feature guest appearances from  Robert Lindsay, Bill Paterson & Rosie Perez. I will tune in to see if that improves, but as a debut outing Falcón left me somewhat disappointed and unexpectedly nauseous.

Falcón Continues Thursday's at 10.00pm on Sky Atlantic 

Contributed by Piers Smith Follow Piers on Twitter

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