There is too much TV nowadays. My ‘job’ I suppose is sorting through the shows that are just ‘ok’ and making sure you are aware of the shows that are worth your time. So, let’s talk about Channel 5’s new Irish drama Blood then shall we? It more than meets the criteria of a show you should be watching.
I have NEVER reviewed a drama on Channel 5. If I’m honest it’s not a channel I hold in high regard, but since the end of Big Brother a few weeks ago the channel is going through a lot of changes and if this tense family drama is anything to go by, I’ll be keeping a much a closer eye on their schedules in the new year.
Blood has already aired in Ireland (where the show takes place) where it received a lot of buzz and Channel 5 have taken the bold step to ‘strip’ the six-parter over five nights. It’s a move that shows their belief in the show, but also one that irritates me a tiny bit as this is a really strong, engrossing new drama that will be all over in a week! It’s a minor niggle because the series, from writer Sophie Petzal, is tense, brooding and very intriguing and a big leap forward for the channel in terms of homegrown drama.
When we first meet Cat (Carolina Main) she’s being sick on the side of the road. She’s stopped by a policeman who breathalyses her before realising he regconises her and tells her how highly thought of her parents are. Cat has been away from the family home but it is the sudden death of her mother that brings her back. Her mother had been in ill health for a while but her death is the result of a fall by the pool and hitting her head on a flagstone. Cat has a sense of unease about her being back in the family home and alarm bells appear to ring when her brother and sister inform her that their father was the first to find his wife’s body.
Cat is clearly uncomfortable around her father Jim (the brilliantly suave Adrian Dunbar) as he calmly tells her the story of trying to resuscitate his wife but that she’d already gone. She notices a cut on his hand which he is quick to brush off. She’s also quick to pick holes in his story saying that the story she’d been told by her brother doesn’t match his. She also notices that a ceramic frog that normally sits by the pool is missing. It’s clear that Cat doesn’t trust her father and thinks he is responsible for her mother’s final moments. In a spine-tingling moment, Jim calmy turns to his daughter and says ‘we’re not going to have any trouble you and I are we?’ It’s the first time we see that Jim has a very different side to him that he only seems to allow Cat to see. He’s a quick-tempered firey and possibly dangerous man who threatens, manhandles and manipulates his daughter over the course of this first feature-length episode.
It’s a credit to Petzal and to lead Carolina Main that by the time the first ad break arrives I was completely invested in these characters. As Cat explores the village she left she uncovers further secrets her father has been hiding including an affair with the secretary at the surgery where he serves as a beloved GP. Cat hopes the secret shes has uncovered will throw her father off balance and cause her siblings to question who their father is. Instead, the affair is common knowledge and another thing the family had kept from Cat. She’s also left out of the loop when the priest visits the family to discuss the funeral arrangements which only isolates Cat from the family further.
Petzal expertly plots this double bill as Cat turns detective trying desperately to uncover the truth about her mother’s death and her father’s possible involvement. The beautifully but unforgiving Irish adds to the atmosphere of the piece. Blood is pretty perfect from the off. In an age where dramas continually play with timelines and settings, Petzal’s decision to tell this liner story peppered with family secrets feels like a breath of fresh air. I may not agree with the idea of scheduling this over the course of a week, it is a drama that lends itself well to a binge ending on a cliffhanger that will leave you desperate to see what happens next.
I can only hope that Blood is the first of many Channel 5 dramas we can look forward as the channel moves away of its reliance on reality TV and into more grown-up programming. Whatever happens next, I can’t recommend Sophie Petzal’s six-parter enough and I really want you to watch it. You’ll be hooked, I promise.
Blood Continues All Week on Channel 5 at 9.00pm