Dalziel And Pascoe, BBC1

by | May 6, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

A blackly humorous, and welcome, return for the mismatched detective duo in which they investigated a spooky murder. However, the sense of levity was needed to temper the gruesome ultraviolence of the second murder.

What was good about it?

• Warren Clarke as Dalziel. He almost seemed to be on a one-man mission to remind everyone that he is the most mordant, grouchiest cop on British TV and not younger upstart Gene Hunt.

• In the first scene, Dalziel scared away some trick or treaters from his front door, despite calling after them to offer them some sweets the lonely superintendent had bought especially for the occasion.

• And as he and the disgruntled Pascoe strode through the home of the first murder victim who had been blown apart at point-blank range by her husband, Dalziel rather blithely enquired: “Right, where’s the mess?”

• And along with the obligatory sneer at Pascoe’s more genteel sensibilities, one scene opened with a fabulous shot of Dalziel’s mouth almost in silhouette to emphasise his pouting, peeling lips as they puffed arrogantly on a cigarette. And when his dogsbody Kim Spicer suggested that “since Monday you’re not allowed to smoke in this building”, he dismissed her objections with a bilious frown.

• But with Dalziel, it’s mostly a façade, and this was well conveyed when his only moment of real annoyance came when he realised that Pascoe had celebrated his birthday and not invited him to the party.

• The plot, in which a husband ostensibly murders his wife but is muddied by their appearance on a show by a Derren Brown-style illusionist on which the husband shot his wife but on this occasion his gun was only loaded with blanks was, apart from being a little too convoluted to describe in one sentence, buoyed by the dark humour bled into the script.

• The sporadic Omen-esque outbreaks of choral singers that acted as, well, omens of woe meant the viewer was well-signposted of imminent disaster. While the use of tarot cards spelling doom also added to the foreboding atmosphere, as well as humour such as when Tamsin turned over The Lovers and the scene cut to one of a bickering Dalziel and Pascoe.

• Richard E Grant revelled in the role of TV illusionist Lee Knight who is suspected of involvement in the deaths of both Jean, by her husband, and her daughter after she slapped him and blamed him for the tragedy. He balanced the character on the high wire of perfect pomposity above a fathomless pit of his own insecurity in to which he’ll surely plummet in the concluding episode.

• The way in which Dalziel’s searing scepticism of the occult is challenged firstly when he is bamboozled by Lee Knight into forgetting his own name, and right at the end as he and Pascoe burst in on the Dragons, apparently a charitable organisation who are in reality the local branch of Satanists, and their leaders eyes are popping out of his skull after trying to summon a diabolic dragon.

• The mystery of who is responsible for the killings is still shrouded in doubt. Was it Catherine’s brother James and her snooty lover looking to make a killing on the inheritance who did away with her as part of their Satanic ritual (a different coven of Satanists)? Could Lee Knight be somehow psychically be manipulating others to carry out the killings? Or were the Dragons culpable, as they too sought to make a financial killing from the deaths of Catherine, Guy and Jean?

What was bad about it?

• There was perhaps too much concentration on Dalziel’s charisma rather than on the story, and this meant that whenever Warren Clarke wasn’t on screen your attention wandered away from the plot, which was quite complex.

• The murder of Catherine, or at least the aftermath, was perhaps a little too lurid. She had been effectively sawn in half with most of her guts spilling out the ‘open’ side while a dismembered arm lay by her side.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

06/05/2007

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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