Falcón starring Marton Csokas, Hayley Atwell, PREVIEW

Marton Csokas as Falcón. Pics: BSkyB

Rating: ★★★★

Sky Atlantic: Thursday, 15 November, 10pm

Story: Javier Falcón investigates a series of particularly brutal murders, which lead him to uncover shocking buried truths about his own family’s history.
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The grand tour of European crime scenes continues on Sky Atlantic with this Spanish jaunt in the company of brooding Seville detective Falcón.
This is the fledgling channel’s second crime drama commission following Chloe Sevigny’s Hit & Miss earlier this year, and confirms Sky Atlantic as a maker of distinctive, edgy new series.
Bog standard police procedural it ain’t. It’s a dark nourish tale, vividly directed by Pete Travis, capturing the sour side of a spectacularly lovely city.

Falcón – charismatic, vulnerable
Marton Csokas, who viewers may know from fantasy and epics such as The Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven and on TV in Xena: Warrior Princess, here steps up to the leading role with panache, making Javier Falcón a charismatic, vulnerable hero. He is joined by a good cast – Charlie Creed-Miles as Falcón’s abrasive sidekick, Hayley Atwell as femme fatale, Bernard Hill as old family friend Ramon.
Falcón is based on the novels of award-winning British writer Robert Wilson, The opening two-part story, The Blind Man of Seville, begins with the torture and murder of a wealthy businessman.
The murder is intercut with scenes of Seville’s bustling Holy Week night-time procession, featuring those spooky pointy-hooded, Ku Klux Klan-like figures – a sequence immediately evoking the murky potential of this vivacious city.

Hayley Atwell is the victim’s widow
The victim is Carlos Jiminez, a rich guy with a serious prostitute habit despite his wife being Hayley Atwell. The killer has cut Carlos’s eyelids off.
Was it the wife, or her lover, behind the gruesome death? Falcón doesn’t think it was anything so mundane. When the last prostitute used by Carlos is also murdered, Falcón is convinced the perpetrator is sending some twisted message.
What lifts this first mystery out of ordinary is that it descends into a shocking tailspin for our hero. The investigation swirls around Carlos, a dodgy guy who once ran into serious problems in North Africa, which in turn resulted in his five-year-old son being kidnapped – a crime he never reported.
  • The second Falcón mystery is The Silent and the Damned, Sky Atlantic, 10pm, starts Thursday 29 November
    The sudden death of an eminent Sevillian businessman draws Falcon into a dark conspiracy involving corruption and abuse at the highest level. Stars: Robert Lindsay, Bill Paterson
It’s personal for Falcón
Meanwhile, as Falcón sorts out the affairs of his recently deceased father, a distinguished artist, he begins to sense that the killer is triggering old childhood memories for him that no one apart from the detective could know about.
He is also dealing with his ex-wife, played by Emilia fox, who is now sleeping with his boss, the rather suave investigating judge.
Bernard Hill as Ramon
Of course, like watching Brits playing Italians in BBC1’s Zen, hearing the cockney and English voices portraying Spaniards requires a little suspension of disbelief.
Spain joins the TV Euro-crime invasion with Falcón
But Falcón is a pacy, flavoursome thriller, great to look at and absorbing, which culminates in shattering revelations for Falcón. The drama can certainly now hold his head up among the Swedes (Wallander, Sebastian Bergman), Dutch (Van der Valk), Italians (Inspector Montalbano), French (Spiral, Braquo), Danes (The Killing, The Bridge), and – soon – the Irish (C5’s Jack Taylor: The Guards).
Director Pete Travis reveals that Sky Atlantic said to him, ‘Don’t make something ordinary.’
Olé to that.

Cast: Marton Csokas Javier Falcón, Hayley Atwell Consuelo, Charlie Creed Miles Insp Ramirez, Santiago Cabrera Judge Calderon, Bernard Hill Ramon Salgado

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Endeavour with Shaun Evans PREVIEW

Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse. Pics: ITV

Rating ★★★★½

ITV1, Monday, 2 January, 9pm

Story: 1965. A schoolgirl is missing in Oxford. A young detective constable is drafted in from the anonymous Midlands new town where he is stationed to help with the investigation because he knows the Oxford area. It is a case that will shape Endeavour Morse’s life and career.

He only ever used to be known as Morse, the detective finally revealing his christian name after Inspector Morse had been on air for 10 years in 1997. Now as everyone knows, Morse was named after Captain Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour and the moniker can be plastered all over this impressive two-hour prequel.

John Thaw

The much-loved original, which ran for 33 episodes from 1987-2000, starred John Thaw as Morse and Kevin Whately as his sidekick, Lewis, setting the standard for UK police procedurals. Thaw died relatively young at 60 in 2002, and while Lewis, of course, is still with us, the temptation to resurrect Morse somehow was too good to let slip away.

Shaun Evans and Roger Allam
This much anticipated new mystery is a scandal on a suitably large scale, involving bent cops, murder and a corrupt government minister. The cast – including Shaun Evans as Morse and Roger Allam as his boss/mentor DI Fred Thursday – are actors who bring depth to the lead roles, and the period setting is understated. And for Morse fans, the hero’s background is fleshed out well.

The young Endeavour is called on to assist in an investigation into the disappearance of 15-year-old schoolgirl because he is familiar with Oxford, where he did Greats but didn’t finish his degree. DS Arthur Lott makes it clear to Morse and his fellow draftees that they are there to ‘take up the slack’, do the grunt work, and leave the detecting to him and Thursday.

Morse and Thursday

But Morse immediately stands out as a serious-minded detective with a questioning nature – which sets him at odds with Lott. It is Morse who works out that the missing teenager had a lover who was communicating with her through crosswords in the local paper. ‘Codswallop,’ says Lott, but Morse is proved right.

Colin Dexter

Abigail Thaw

Fans will appreciated the crossword touch, which would also appeal to the creator of Morse and crossword lover Colin Dexter, now 81, who makes a Hitchcockian cameo in a pub garden. The drama is actually written by Russell Lewis, who has done a good job of embellishing the Morse story.

We learn how Morse got his taste for beer, classical music and the famous maroon Jag. Shaun Evans captures much of the character’s melancholia, particularly when the case blows up in his face and he develops an infatuation for the opera singer wife of a suspect.

John Thaw’s daughter Abigail
The production has so much of the original’s DNA in its make-up that several of the behind-camera crew had also worked on Inspector Morse, and there is even a role for John Thaw’s daughter, Abigail, who plays an employee of the local paper.

Scandalous parties and cover-ups

What begins as a missing person inquiry snowballs into a murder, a suicide and a scandal in which high-level politicians and policemen are attending sex parties with under-age girls. The story has a lot more grit to it than many of the originals or Lewis, and less of the chocolate-box obsession with Oxford spires and quadrangles.

Charlie Creed-Miles is the nasty spiv
Roger Allam is warmly authoritative as Thursday, the ex-soldier and solid copper who is willing to bend the rules to slap down spivs such as Teddy Samuels (Charlie Creed-Miles) and dodgy cops such as Arthur Lott.

It’s a sharp and inspiring tribute to Morse on the 25th anniversary of its very first episode. Surely, a series will follow.

Cast: Shaun Evans Endeavour, Roger Allam DI Fred Thursday, Flora Montgomery Rosalind Stromming, Harry Kershaw Miles Percival, Charlie Creed-Miles Teddy Samuels, Danny Webb DS Arthur Lott, Jack Ashton DC Ian McLeash, Richard Lintern Dr Rowan Stromming, Patrick Malahide Richard Lovell, John Light Dempsey, Abigail Thaw Dorothea Frazil, Michael Matus Brian St Clair, Emma Stansfield Sharon Vellie, James Bradshaw Dr Max De Bryn, Terence Harvey DCS Crisp

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Injustice starring James Purefoy and Dervla Kirwan PREVIEW

James Purefoy as William Travers. Pics: (C) ITV

Rating ★★★★


ITV1, Monday 6 June to Friday 10 June, 9pm

The writer and creator of this drama, author Anthony Horowitz, says it’s based on a simple question about barristers – ‘How do people live with themselves when they get a horrible killer off on a teachnicality.’

ITV is devoting five consecutive nights to tell the story of Horowitz’s psychological thriller, making it the TV event of the week. James Purefoy takes the lead as William Travers, a criminal barrister who is living in Ipswich and recovering from traumatic events that have shattered his belief in the legal system.

James Purefoy and Dervla Kirwan (as Jane)

Dervla Kirwan is his wife, Jane, who sacrificed her publishing career to move back to the sticks with their kids to aid his recovery.

DS Wenborn – aggressive, snarling
In tandem with their story, we meet DS Mark Wenborn – a show-stealing shift from actor Charlie Creed-Miles. Wenborn’s aggressive, snarling, constantly eye-balling his poor partner, DC Nick Taylor (Obi Abili). As one colleague tells Wenborn, he’s a bastard – but a very watchable one, not above calling an elderly witness a ‘daft old bat’ to her face. Wenborn’s idea of treating his wife is to show her postmortem murder photos…

During the opening episode, we see William’s comfy middle-class life, his kids, his boat, the nice home. But we learn that he longer takes murder cases, that he has trouble sleeping and is haunted by an incident at Ipswich train station when he spots a man on the opposite platform and, agitated, decides to follow him.

Obi Abili (Taylor) and Charlie Creed-Miles (Wenborn)

It’s a slightly confusing episode because the shifts backwards and forwards in narrative are tricky to follow. But the whole story is suddenly pulled into focus at the end of this first hour with a stunning twist involving the shooting of a farm labourer at a remote cottage. This packs the remaining episodes with plenty of tension – what just happened, and what were the devastating events that led to Travers’ breakdown?

New murder case
The intrigue quotient is upped considerably during the second episode, when Travers is reluctantly pulled into representing another murder defendant. It’s his old friend, Martin Newall, who is accused of killing a much younger office colleague in a hotel room. Though they haven’t seen each other for years, Newall plays on their old friendship to secure Travers’ services.

Nathaniel Parker as Martin Newall

Nathaniel Parker is perfect as the classic married middle-aged man falling for the charms of a young woman. Travers believes Newall, who says he was out of the room when the murder was committed and whose laptop, containing sensitive commerical information, was stolen during the crime.

With Wenborn investigating the murdered farm labourer near where Travers lives, and Travers involved in a new and very murky case, the drama is bulging with jeopardy and the characters vulnerable. Anthony Horowitz is a skilful storyteller and has come up with a potent mystery here.

The production is also well made, with terrific theme music from composer Magnus Fiennes.

Cast: William Travers James Purefoy, DS Mark Wenborn Charlie  Creed-Miles, Jane Travers Dervla Kirwan, Martin Newal Nathaniel Parker, DS Nick Taylor Obi Abili, Natalie Chandra Sasha Behar, Maggie Wenborn Kirsty Bushell, Jeremy Forbes-Watson Nick Dunning, Philip Spaull Robert Whitelock, Terry Cooper Ian Burfield, Kate Travers Lisa Diveney, Caroline Newall Camilla Power, Robin Miller Adam Grant, ACC Stephen Packard David Schofield, Lucy Wilson Jayne Wisener, Alan Stewart Joe Cole, Susanna Susannah Doyle, John Slater Peter Ferdinando, Michael Bankes Andrew Tiernan, Pamela Stewart Amelia Lowdell, Gemma Lawrence Imogen Stubbs, PMO Adam Christie Hilton McRae

 

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