Cape Wrath, Channel 4/E4

by | Jul 10, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

An unsettling drama which at times is utterly absorbing, but in other places the balance between a slowburn tension and the necessity to compact the whole story into just seven episodes begins to grate.

What was good about it?

• David Morrisey is a superb actor and here his skills are required to maintain the interest in Danny Brogan (or Eddie as he was before being put in the witness protection scheme), a blank cipher, an everyman through whose eyes the viewer is introduced to the eerie town of Meadowlands. While he is prone to the odd outburst of violence and is over protective of his children, it’s only thanks to Morrissey that it’s apparent that he’s on the screen at all in some scenes.

• While the haste in haring through the story is off-putting elsewhere, the manner in which the residents of Meadowlands are immediately over-familiar with the Brogans, and Zoë’s unashamed desire to act as Angel of mercy to Jack, provided much of the initial weirdness. As soon as they arrive in Meadowlands, everyone greets them by their names even before a formal introduction as if they’ve been secreted away on to the pages of a Kafka novel rather than a enigmatic town, while Brenda brazenly advertises the beauty of her unseen daughter Jezebel, scorning the appeal of the pretty Zoë in front of her mother.

• And when Jezebel does eventually turn up the rest of the community rushes out to greet her from the Brogans’ housewarming party. She is quite clearly not the stunner her mother proclaims, as she is very plump and quite vulgar, yet the Brogans’ son Mark (who has remained mute for the past four months) is oddly moved to speak to let her know how beautiful he thinks she is (although this may be part of his ruse to seduce Brenda).

• While perhaps trying a little bit too hard to be bizarre the Dennis Potter-esque dance of welcome the townspeople performed at the housewarming party also added to the atmosphere, it was almost some kind of ritual alien mating dance set to chart pap as if orchestrated by refugees from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

• Cape Wrath wilfully plays on the mysterious ambience popularised by its genetic forbears such as Twin Peaks, The Stepford Wives and even The League of Gentlemen that something sinister is afoot behind the bland exteriors of the bland houses inhabited by bland people.

• As with Lost, there is the inevitable musing on the true nature of Meadowlands, and the most coherent we can come up with is that the whole thing is some kind of computer-generated sanctuary in the vein of Second Life, only obviously much more realistic.

• The police liaison officer Samantha Campbell, who rarely leaves her room in a garishly coloured motel, insists that Meadowlands is impervious to infiltration, and when Jack demands to leave she tells him to do so on the evening when he is strangled by Danny, during which he mockingly whispers to his murderer “I’m leaving” as though Danny should be envious of his liberation. After his death, the mysterious (yes, another one) Gordon Ormond pops by to tell him that Danny had done his “job” for him as though he were an assassin called in by the police to kill off Jack’s identity within the virtual set-up. Gordon, despite claiming to be Danny’s new next-door neighbour didn’t appear in episode two.

• Our favourite character is the psychotic Detective Sergeant Wintersgill, who when not stamping on the heads of miscreants such as Jack, yearns for a proper role in the village and fervently devotes himself to snaring Danny for the apparent murder of Jack, even though he regarded Jack as scum. Rather like ITN News in the midst of a terror alert, he appears to be carried along on a wave of euphoria that he has found a purpose in life.


What was bad about it?

• The two most interesting relationships struck up in the opener were between Zoë and Jack as she became fascinated by his inclination to become sexually aroused when any partner becomes afraid of him. Sadly this was cut short after Jack’s death at the hands of a raging Danny after Jack had attempted to rape the cross-dressing Mark. Although he did appear as a Banquo-esque ghost to Wintersgill.

• The other was the dissatisfied Evelyn becoming attracted to the obsessive doctor, David. The moment when at dinner when they discovered a shared love for the songs of Cole Porter and then went on to serenade one another with one of their favourite tunes seemed to be the beginning of a very promising relationship that would gradually build throughout the series. Sadly, his habit of blurting out his true lustful intentions towards her (“I love you” “Will you have a baby with me”), which culminated with his intimate examination of her being revealed to be a perverted subterfuge has caused an emotional schism between them, and brought to a premature end a well-observed romance-of-sorts.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

10/07/2007

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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