Ordeal by Innocence BBC1

Programme Name: Ordeal By Innocence - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Arthur Calgary (LUKE TREADAWAY), Rachel Argyll (ANNA CHANCELLOR), Leo Argyll (BILL NIGHY), Kirsten Lindstrom (MORVEN CHRISTIE) - (C) Mammoth Screen/ACL - Photographer: James Fisher/Joss Barratt

Shadowy figures – Arthur Calgary (Luke Treadaway), Rachel (Anna Chancellor), Leo (Bill Nighy), Kirsten Lindstrom (Morven Christie)

Lavish production for Agatha Christie’s dark mystery 

★★★½

BBC1, Easter Sunday, 1 April, 9pm

AGATHA CHRISTIE was the queen of intimate murder. Relationships that are too close for comfort and disturbing family secrets often lurk in her whodunits.

These elements always add up to killing that is up close and personal. Ordeal by Innocence is a classic of the genre.

This production was originally pulled from the Christmas schedule. An allegation of historic sexual assault against its then star Ed Westwick, which he has denied, caused the Beeb to withdraw the three-parter.

Ordeal by Innocence Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson), Supporting Artists - (C) Mammoth Screen/ACL - Photographer: James Fisher

Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson)

Christian Cook as Mickey

In stepped actor Christian Cooke to reshoot Westwick’s scenes, and here is the result. Cooke plays Mickey, one of the adopted children of dragon mother Rachel Argyll, who is murdered before the opening credits. It’s a key role and he portrays the damaged son well.

The story sweeps us along with little dialogue at first. It’s pacy, beautifully shot and gripping.

In addition to the tense relationships, Ordeal by Innocence has those other classic Christie ingredients – the big country house and homicidal motives galore.

Anna Chancellor as Rachel

Mickey and his step siblings – Mary, Tina, Jack and Hester – have had the misfortune to be raised by adoptive mum Rachel (Anna Chancellor). She is cold and manipulative.

Now grown, the children – plus housekeeper Kirsten – all seem ready to brain Rachel. Delinquent Jack (Anthony Boyle) is fingered for the crime, dying later in prison.

Eighteen months after the crime, a stranger appears at the family estate. Dr Arthur Calgary (Luke Treadaway) claims he gave Jack a lift in his car at the time Rachel was being killed. His assertion that Jack was innocent is not believed, though he still manages to unsettle the family.

Ordeal By Innocence - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Mickey Argyll (CHRISTIAN COOKE), Kirsten Lindstrom (MORVEN CHRISTIE) - (C) Mammoth Screen/ACL - Photographer: Joss Barratt

Mickey Argyll (Christian Cooke), Kirsten (Morven Christie)

As patriarch Leo Argyll prepares to marry his secretary – to the disapproval of Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson in fine bitchy form) – the tension builds brilliantly…

Ordeal by Innocence is a superior Christie adaption. It has a terrific cast and the characters have enough skeletons in various cupboards to keep things rattling along superbly.

13 Commandments

13 Commandments

Bloody message – the detectives on the hunt for ‘Moses’

A sinister series of biblically themed crimes challenges Belgian detectives in this dark thriller

★★★½

Channel 4, Sunday, starts 18 March, 10pm

FIVE OR SIX years ago it was the Nordic explosion in crime TV. Today the growing buzz is around Belgian series.

13 Commandments is a violent 13-parter about a moralistic killer basing his crimes on the 10 commandments. It begins with a grisly throat-slitting murder – which could put off some viewers – but after that lurid start, it becomes quite compelling.

There are conventional features, such as the budding police relationship between isolated old-timer Peter Devriendt (played by Dirk van Dijck) and his new unwanted young partner, Vicky Degraeve (Marie Vinck).

Odd-couple cops

She has been traumatised by her time with special forces. He lives alone and has a distant relationship with his daughter.

The character development is slow but convincing. After a while it seems logical that the two misfits should click.

While there was a bleakness amid the chill settings of Scandi classics such as The Bridge and The Killing, 13 Commandments offers unpredictability. Here, the twist is that the killer’s crimes make him a media sensation. Vicky and Peter’s job in hunting him becomes all the more difficult and dangerous.

Belgian crime wave

Other Belgian series to look out for under the Walter Presents umbrella include Rough Justice and Professor T. If the distinctive features of Belgium’s crime shows are mood and quirkiness, these two typify each style respectively. Rough Justice follows damaged Superintendent Liese Meerhout, while Professor T is about an eccentric professor with a sideline as police adviser.

And look out for the second series of Belgian hit Salamander, coming soon to BBC4.

In the meantime, watch as the criminal who calls himself Moses tries to restore a moral order to the world. It’s a dark and at times cinematic journey…

Save Me, Sky Atlantic, Lennie James, Suranne Jones

Save Me, Sky Atlantic

Stephen Graham, Lennie James and Suranne Jones

An estranged father feels compelled to join the hunt for his missing daughter in this London-set thriller

★★★★ Sky Atlantic, Wednesday, 28 February, 9pm

NELSON ‘NELLY’ ROWE is a chancer, barfly and bit of a rogue. However, he’s shaken out of his comfort zone when he is accused of abducting his estranged 13-year-old daughter, Jody.

The reason he doesn’t see Jody is because she is the result of a summer fling years ago. Her mother, Claire, has not forgotten Nelly, however. She is convinced he has snatched her girl.

Reunited – Suranne Jones as Claire McGory and Lennie James as ‘Nelly’ Rowe

Nelly suddenly realises what he has missed by ignoring Jody. Arrested and horrified to be considered a kidnapper, he resolves to find out where she is.

Suranne Jones and Stephen Graham

This six-parter is nicely written by its star, Lennie James, here a long way from The Walking Dead. The setting is a south London council estate, where life revolves around the local boozer.

The top-notch case includes Suranne Jones as Claire, and Stephen Graham as ‘Melon’, the friend with a secret. Jason Flemyng plays Tam, Nelly’s cross-dressing ally, and Susan Lynch is Stace, landlady of the Palm Tree pub.

A twist to the story is the new man in Claire’s life, Barry (actor Barry Ward). Jody’s adoptive father warns Nelly off, but he appears to have serious problems of his own with some unsavoury characters.

Lennie James as Nellie

It’s a refreshing change to see a drama that is not about lovely middle-class types. These are ordinary folk at the lower end of the social scale, but the characters are well realised and pose intriguing questions.

Spooked – Stephen Graham as Fabio ‘Melon’ Melanzana

What has happened to Jody? Has she fallen victim to a paedophile on the estate? Or is Barry in some way involved?

Lennie James has a good appreciation of this group of characters, most of all Nelly. Fifteen years before Nelly would have ruled the Palm Tree and been a big hit with ladies.

He’s a badly faded local face now. Seeing whether he will be able to finally redeem himself should make Save Me a gripping series.

Marcella 2, ITV, with Anna Friel

BUCCANEER MEDIA FOR ITV MARCELLA EPISODE 1 Pictured: ANNA FRIEL as Marcella. This photograph is (C) RANKIN and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Dark times – Anna Friel as Marcella

She’s confused, we’re confused – Marcella is back on a new case

★★½ ITV, Monday, 19 February, 9pm

IT BEGINS WITH our heroine standing on a roof edge. Then someone finds an ear in a wall – as you do.

Next, a mummified corpse is found bricked up in a cavity. Marcella takes one look and says, ‘I know who that is.’

All this is accompanied by a pounding soundtrack. This jumble of unhinged non sequiturs and annoying aural climaxes is, I suspect, supposed to be intriguing. To keep us guessing, glued to our armchairs.

For many, the actual effect will probably be to make trigger fingers hover over the remote’s off-button.

Marcella’s fugue states

The storytelling is annoying, throwing out jagged moments to keep the audience off-balance. The characters are largely flat because of the pyrotechnics with plot-teasers.

ANNA FRIEL as Marcella, RAY PANTHAKI as Rav and JACK DOOLAN as Mark. This photograph is (C) iTV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Investigators – Anna Friel as Marcella, Ray Panthaki as Rav and Jack Doolan as Mark

The first outing for Marcella was called ‘infuriating’ in some quarters, but this site enjoyed its off-kilter drive. In fact, most people who voted in our poll liked it and found it gripping.

If you remember, Detective Sergeant Marcella Backland suffers these fugue states and can’t recall all that happens. This led to suspicions that she may have committed the crime she was investigating without knowing it.

Jamie Bamber

Now she is back for another eight episodes and is still out of control. When she blindly attacks someone, her estranged husband says she should get help.

‘I don’t know how,’ she moans. To which most viewers may think, how about visiting the doctor?

Instead, she goes rampaging around in a fury, snapping at the man she sleeps with, played by Jamie Bamber, weirdly confronting her ex, lying to colleagues. She is a grim protagonist.

Another criticism last time was that it was such a dark drama. This time, we get a child apparently being abducted, a paedophile, a youth strapped to a table in a dingy flat being experimented on…

[Read more…]

Babylon Berlin graphic novel

WE’VE SEEN IT on Sky Atlantic and it’s just launched on Netflix in the US. Soon a new blast of the period crimer Babylon Berlin will return – as a graphic novel.

The 16-part series met with acclaim when European audiences caught it last autumn. It’s a pacy and intriguing recreation of hedonistic 1920s and 30s Weimar Germany. It was also the most expensive Euro-TV production ever, costing a reported $47 million.

Set in Berlin, 1929, the story follows detective Gereon Rath. He gets pulled into a web of drugs, sex, political intrigue and murder.

The transition to the graphic world works a treat. Writer/artist Arne Jysch captures the noir mood and danger of this volatile period. The artwork has a vintage, but cinematic, feel to it.

Publisher is Titan Comics. Details: Hardcover, B&W, 216pp, $24.99 US/$33.99 CAN/£21.99 UK
On sale: February 27, 2018 ISBN: 9781785866357

Endeavour 5, ITV, with Shaun Evans

FROM MAMMOTH SCREEN FOR ITV ENDEAVOUR ON ITV1 Pictured: SHAUN EVANS as Dectective Sergeant Endeavour Morse ad ROGER ALLAM as Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday Shaun Evans returns as the recently promoted Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse. Also returning Roger Allam (Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday), Anton Lesser (Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright), Dakota Blue Richards (WPC Shirley Trewlove), Sean Rigby (Sergeant Jim Strange), James Bradshaw (Dr. Max DeBryn), Caroline O'Neil (Win Thursday) and Abigail Thaw (Dorothea Frazil). The series also sees the arrival of new recruit Detective Constable George Fancy, played by Lewis Peek, whom Morse has to reluctantly mentor. The new series begins with Morse having finally passed his Sergeant’s exams, as Oxford City Police merges into Thames Valley Constabulary. Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers) has returned to Oxford, but much is unresolved following her disappearance the previous year and Endeavour’s unexpected proposal. This photograph is (C) iTV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Oxford’s students of crime – Shaun Evans as Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse and Roger Allam as Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday

The 1960s may be swinging but glum Morse has a deadly serious job to do

★★★½

ITV, Sunday, 4 February, 8pm

WHY DID ENDEAVOUR join the police? He doesn’t seem to fit in, with his Wagner and crosswords.

He stomps about moaning. And he’s always got a face like a slapped bum on him.

Of course, whether it was John Thaw or Shaun Evans portraying the sleuth, the poor guy has always been unlucky in love. It’s 1968 and the permissive society is passing him by.

Joan Thursday returns

To rub in his loner status, as this fifth series gets underway, Joan (Sara Vickers) is back on the scene. If you remember, Endy was going to propose to her last year, only for the young woman to promptly scarper.

FROM MAMMOTH SCREEN FOR ITV ENDEAVOUR ON ITV1 Pictured: DAKOTA BLUE RICHARDS as WPC Shirley Tewlove and SHAUN EVANS as Detective Sgt Endeavour Morse Past and present collide in Oxford, as the auction of a priceless Faberge Egg gets underway at Lonsdale College. It soon attracts the attention of an infamous international thief - and consequently the newly christened Thames Valley Constabulary - as Endeavour (Shaun Evans) investigates a failed burglary attempt. They soon have a bigger case to solve, as the gruesome death of a known gangster threatens to expose the growing threat of underworld Oxford. But when a Lonsdale don connected to the auction is murdered in a similarly grisly way, Endeavour begins to suspect the seemingly separate cases may be somehow connected. When the organiser of the auction also meets a bloodthirsty end, he's convinced. The hunt is underway to find a ruthless and violent serial killer, and track down the next victim before it's too late. Meanwhile, newly-promoted Endeavour struggles with his role as he's forced to mentor young detective constable George Fancy (Lewis Peek), and a surprise reappearance opens up old wounds. This photograph is (C) iTV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Feeling rosy? Dakota Blue Richards as WPC Shirley Trewlove and Shaun Evans as Endeavour

Even his promotion to detective sergeant hasn’t cheered him up. Perhaps he suspects that the demise of Oxford City Police, now absorbed into Thames Valley Constabulary, could blight his future. Not everyone will be moving to the force’s new HQ…

And there is the grim business of a slain boxer to unravel. In Muse, the first of six feature-length films, he is found with three bullets in his chest and a spike driven through his ear. [Read more…]

Gomorrah 3, Sky Atlantic

Gomorrah, Series 03, Unit Stills, Salavtore Esposito as Genny Savastano, © 2017 Beta Film

Long live the king – Salavtore Esposito, right, as Genny Savastano

Trigger fingers at the ready for another season of family business – Neapolitan-style

★★★★

Sky Atlantic, Wednesday, 31 January, 9pm

SEE NAPLES and die – which is what a lot of people do in Gomorrah. As the third series hits Sky Atlantic, the fallout from the assassination of boss Don Pietro Savastano begins.

The episode opens in typical style, with an overhead shot of the Don’s bloody body. Genny, his son, once seen as the bumbling dolt, is now nastier and in charge. The new Don.

Long Live the King, this opener is called. And that brilliantly captures the chaos and blood-letting that surrounds the change of regime amid flying accusations.

Can Genny stay in control of Secondigliano?

Gomorrah, Series 03, Unit Stills, © 2017 Beta Film

End of the Don – Pietro

Genny could be about to take control of the Secondigliano area of the city. But can he get a grip of his clan’s hardened soldiers? And can he convince the Camorra’s ruling council that he is the man for the job.

This acclaimed Italian drama, based on Roberto Saviano‘s excellent non-fiction book, first reached us in 2014. It is worth catching for its authentic feel. Shot on the streets of the Neapolitan suburbs, it is mean and menacing.

This is a world of grim public housing estates, cut-throat rivalries and power-crazed machinations.

Salvatore Esposito as Genny

Gomorrah, Series 03, Unit Stills, © 2017 Beta Film

Tension – Patrizia and Genny

Believe me, it is no advert for the lifestyle. Those who grab the throne are immediately under siege. This is also a world in which family can harbour the most brutal betrayal.

Not all of the acting is good. Salvatore Esposito as Genny, for example, is one-dimensional. But he is surrounded by a rich gallery of performers.

It is an adrenalin-pounding season opener, with a stunning twist and shift of power before the end. Revenge served cold, indeed.

Requiem, BBC1, with Lydia Wilson

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 22/01/2018 - Programme Name: Requiem - TX: n/a - Episode: Requiem - portraits (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: +++Embargoed until Monday January 22nd, 2018+++ Matilda (LYDIA WILSON) - (C) New Pictures - Photographer: Todd Antony

Lost – Matilda (Lydia Wilson)

A musician travels into her disturbing past in this spooky psychological thriller

★★★½

BBC1, Friday, 2 February, 9pm

WHEN MATILDA, a talented musician, finds a box of mementoes on her recently deceased mother’s bed, it pushes her on a journey of frightening discoveries.

This offbeat new thriller should also have an unsettling effect on viewers. It uses tricks from the horror genre – eerie sounds, jump cuts – but without overdoing it. The overall effect disorientating but engrossing.

Matilda Gray is a successful cellist about to embark on a concert tour of New York. But her world is turned upside when her mother inexplicably commits suicide.

Mystery of the girl who vanished

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 22/01/2018 - Programme Name: Requiem - TX: n/a - Episode: Requiem - Ep1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: +++Embargoed until Monday January 22nd, 2018+++ Rose (CLAIRE RUSHBROOK), Aron (RICHARD HARRINGTON), Matilda (LYDIA WILSON), Hal (JOEL FRY) - (C) New Pictures - Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Confrontation – Rose (Claire Rushbrook), Aron (Richard Harrington), Matilda (Lydia Wilson), Hal (Joel Fry)

It is then that grieving Matilda finds the box of news clippings and photos. These are about a girl, Carys Howell, who went missing from a Welsh village 20-odd years ago.

Who was Carys? And why was Matilda’s mother obsessed with the case?

Matilda and her piano accompanist Hal (Joel Fy) travel to Penllynith to investigate whether her mother’s suicide is related to Carys’s disappearance. [Read more…]

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