The first episode of ITV’s latest crime drama, The Bay, opens with snapshots of daily life in a sleepy, northern seaside town. The residents of Morecambe are going about their daily life as usual at work, school and socialising, but there is a sense of suspicion alluded to in the atmospheric style of filming, suspicion that will later become more and more justified as the episode moves on. We are then introduced to Morven Christie’s DS Lisa Armstrong who is embarking on a drunken night of karaoke, flirtation, and eventually sex with a stranger in an alley-way.
It is this night, of the aforementioned drunken alley-way debauchery, that begins the string of events that reveals to us the predictability, and frankly, dullness of the programme’s plot. Lisa is assigned to be the Family Liaison Officer of the mother and father of two missing children. With all the teasers of the programme stating that this investigation will be ‘all too familiar’ for DS Armstrong, it is not hard to work out the central storyline that will run alongside the family drama. The husband (Jonas Armstrong) of the anxiety-stricken mother, Jess (Chanel Cresswell), is (of course) the man from the karaoke/alley-way. Thus creating a web of lies that will grow and span the rest of the series, and reveal layers of deceit from both sides, of the investigation.
There’s a clear attempt at having an equal balance between the classic police investigation drama, and a raw and emotional family drama. Cresswell’s performance is really moving as a mother desperate for her twins to be found alive.
The idea to focus equally on the family dynamics as well as the twists and turns of the disappearance of the children, is something that would usually grab my attention and make me fall in love with a, series as I always admire — and usually thoroughly enjoy — TV programmes whose creators have chosen to sacrifice the big dramatic thrills, that usually come with police investigation dramas, for emotional intensity and depth. Therefore, The Bay had all the potential of being a great piece of television. However, I’m afraid it just comes up as an average drama.
All this being said, there are still elements of the programme which did grab my attention and I will probably stick with it for the remaining episodes — partly just to see if it has the ability to improve and develop the characters, and story, to an adequate level of depth and emotion. There is still a good level of mystery laced within the plot to make viewers intrigued enough to see the series through until the finale, but I cant help but assume that the remaining episodes will conclude in a way that still will not live up to the potential that I assumed the series would have before I watched it.
Contributed by Oliver Ridings.
The Bay Continues Wednesday at 9.00pm on ITV.