I had really high hopes for The Body Farm, having loved Waking The Dead but, unfortunately, found so much to dislike in this cliched spin-off.
We opened with a voiceover from Eve Lockhart, who told the dead she wanted to ‘unlock the mechanism of your murder’ which was interspersed with a shot of an unrealistic body with a weed growing through it and the team eating their lunch mid-way through tampering with the inhabitants of the farm.
A body farm, we found out, is where forensics experts experiment on people who’ve donated themselves as part of a scientific experiment, allowing forensic scientists to deduce how humans decompose in various settings and conditions.
Their first case was investigating the circumstances which led to two guys spattering themselves across a room in a condemned apartment building. So far, so disgusting. Having become accustomed to the gory side of forensic shows, it wasn’t this that caused face-contortion, but a scene where a half-naked Oggy, smeared in blood and effluent, chatted to his colleagues about bacteria in the name of science. We didn’t really understand why he had decided to cover himself in the (no doubt) stinking liquid. To be honest, we didn’t want to.
It’s a good thing this wasn’t filmed in 3D, because the flies, specially bred by the production team (according to Keith Allen on This Morning), were everywhere and they had a special starring role of their own which we’ll get to later.
After around ten minutes of watching, I wasn’t keen. The dialogue was unnatural and seemed very constructed to ensure you knew, for example, that Oggy suffered from some kind of illness; ‘a disorder’. It played into what American Dad has lampooned in terms of story telling – unnatural over-explanation of what a character is doing or thinking, or how two characters are related: “I didn’t know what to do, sis… what? I’ve never called you sis before? You’re right. It is oddly clunky and expositional. I mean, I know you’re my sister. Who am I saying it for? Weird”.
In fiction, writers are told to ‘show, not tell’, meaning that instead of a character saying ‘I’m really pretty annoyed right now’, they slam a car door or are extremely rude to someone for no reason. This was an exercise in telling.
The dialogue and suspension of belief required in believing that a cheating boyfriend would hammer two men into submission before blowing them up with knowledge gleaned from his girlfriend’s father’s war stories was nothing compared with the unrealistic technology available to the Home Office, unbelievably fast turnaround of a paternity test and the idea that anyone could stand in a room that had been decorated with someone’s insides, swarming with flies, without a mask.
Criminal Minds fans will also recognise a similarity between ‘quirky’ Oggy (who has to take pills, you know, did you notice that?) and Garcia, who stay behind in the office with a mass of computer screens, making ‘clever’ quips and observations whilst the team do the dirty work.
Gory artex aside, for me, the highest rating on the repulsive scale was when one of the scientists appeared to pregnancy test a rat. I wasn’t sure exactly what he was doing, but investigating the demise of the poor rodent would possibly have been more interesting.
Plot holes were also aplenty: how did they know the two boys were dead before they exploded? Why would the news of a girl in a coma being likely to die be broken by Rosa, a visiting pathologist, and not the doctor responsible for the comatose patient? Does GHB definitely show up in blood tests? Why was the father not surprised to learn he was under arrest? He was never cautioned. Would they really question a dead woman’s sister and father a few seconds after her death? How do you castrate a fly? I assume it was some kind of genetic or chemical castration or else surgery with a huge degree of magnification. Do forensic scientists really grind up tsetse flies after they’ve supped on the blood of the murdered?
This was, sadly, one of the most contrived stories I’ve seen, coupled with wooden acting, cold and unfeeling characters, overdramatic music and dodgy visual editing designed to get you to the edge of your seat. Sadly, I was supine, watching with disinterest in order to get to the end of this review.
Reviewed by Tannice for thecustardtv. Follow Tannice on Twitter.