Another night, yet another two-part detective mystery. For the first 10 minutes, this one looked like a real stinker, thanks to some loose scripting and a dose of serious over-acting from Trevor Eve as DCI Peter Boyd, the supposedly charismatic head of the Cold Case Squad. Then it (and Eve) settled down, and it became a fairly gripping tale about the re-examination of a sniper-style street masscacre, and the possible innocence of the man convicted for it.
In one respect it was pure Agatha Christie, as it lined up suspect after suspect with means, motive and opportunity. The fresh twist was that the question wasn’t whodunit, but who knew he hadn’t done it, with a few let’s-nail-the-bastard coppers in the frame alongside the convicted man’s former prospective son-in-law and a fat bloke with a Range Rover.
Also implicated by the end of part one was Boyd himself, whose police college pal had been one of the sniper’s victims, and who seemed to be hiding evidence that pointed to a wrong conviction. Throw in the fact that the convicted man was a sleazy so-and-so who looked like he’d happily massacre you for a fiver, and you’ve got a state of all-round confusion that Christie herself would have been proud of.
That’s not to say, however, that Waking The Dead is a particularly good drama production. Despite obvious attempts at dark broodiness, it lacks atmosphere, while some of the acting is surprisingly wooden given the quality of the actors involved (proof perhaps that TV is, like film, a director’s medium). Sue Johnston is wasted in a secondary role to Eve’s over-dominant Boyd (shades of Lindsey Coulson in MIT), while Claire Goose shows that, unfortunately, her dour, uninteresting persona wasn’t just restricted to the corridors A&E in Casualty. Not a great viewing experience then, but one that did manage to pose enough questions which we’d quite like to see answered. That’s enough to get us back for part two, but only just.