In The Dark. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * *

Cast: MyAnna Buring, Ben Batt, David Leon, Emma Fryer, Jamie Sives, Clive Wood, Pearce Quigley, Jessica Gunning, Georgia Tennant, Ashley Walters, Sophie Bloor, Matt King, Tim McInnerny, Lee Boardman, Alice May Feetham, Fisayo Akinade.

There is always a police drama in which to rifle through, to borrow, sometimes wonderfully well, from literature; yet somehow television and film always seem to rely heavily on certain authors the vast majority of times without searching beyond the known and easily marketable. For every Christie there should be someone of unequal note, for every Ian Rankin there should be a new novelist writing with clarity and sensitivity of plot being given their chance to have the characters they painfully created, up on the screen.

Incredibly though, when they are given a chance, it seems they are let down in production, perhaps by over thinking what will appeal. The makers of the George Gently series for example got it spot on, the same when they brought both Ian Rankin’s Rebus and Colin Dexter’s much loved Inspector Morse to television; they endeavoured to get it right.

Despite enjoyable performances from all the leads, including MyAnna Buring, Ben Blatt and Clive Wood, combining the storyline from two different novels by Mark Billingham felt completely unnecessary, a four part narrative that not only didn’t do the writing any favours but made appearances by the superb Lee Boardman and Tim McInnerny feel unexplored, diluted down, two actors of absolute merit who deserve more than they were given in the overall arc of the televised version of In The Dark and Time of Death.

Two stories hanging on the slight thread of pregnancy and betrayal, both an exciting prospect on their own and one that the makers should have considered. As a four piece story it was overlong, as two separate entities, given their own title and given three episodes each, it would have made the storyline interesting and complete, it would have made the drama, especially in the first half of the story total, the return of anybody to their old home town is always full of secrets but in this case the reveal didn’t go far enough, the sense of underplaying the writer’s hand, of a fractured introduction to the character in television was the overwhelming mood in which the first half of the four part mini-series was framed.

It perhaps is being too cynical and that armchair detectives should be grateful for any new mystery that comes their way but when the guilty party is telegraphed so quickly that the next section becomes almost unbearable, then it is worth asking why was it made if not for but because it was there.


Ian D. Hall