Thursday, 8 October 2015

Unforgotten - ITV review

Unforgotten, the new ITV crime drama which began this evening, benefits from a superb cast and a decent script. And also, I think, from comparison with another new crime show, From Darkness, which started on BBC on Sunday. There are striking similarities between the openings of both stories - human remains are found by builders, and off we go into cold case territory. But overall, I felt that Unforgotten made the stronger start.

Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar are the detective duo who try to figure out the identity of the skeleton buried in concrete on the site of a building in London, and they make a good pair,likeable and professional and thankfully free of most of the cliches which bedevil so many telly cops. As their investigation moves along, we are also introduced to a host of assorted, and seemingly unconnected characters. An affable priest, a successful businessman, a caring bereaved mother, an elderly man with a wife suffering memory loss. What secrets might they share?

There's a clue to the underlying theme of Chris Lang's script when Walker muses on the question of whether a crime becomes less serious just because it took place a very long time ago. In these troubled times when historic sex abuse cases are so much discussed, it's a very thought-provoking question. I felt that the story was intriguing, without (so far) matching the brilliance of the first episode of Broadchurch or the early series of Taggart. As for the actors - Trevor Eve, Hannah Gorden, Tom Courtenay, Claire Goose, Bernard Hill, and so on - it would be a pleasure to watch them in almost anything.

By contrast, I felt that From Darkness moved too slowly. Katie Baxendale's script had several good moments but it also indulged in quite a lot of time-wasting moodiness that failed to advance the story and didn't even offer much insight into character. It did, however, warm up rather nicely towards the end. I'll gladly give it another look, but given that life is short, the early evidence suggests that if you have to choose between one show or the other, Unforgotten is likely to prove more compelling.  


Nan said...

I have been meaning to get back here and comment for days! Thank you for leading me to this show! Both Tom and I thought it was great, and look forward to further episodes. The cast is incredible. And I agree with From Darkness, though maybe for another reason. I just found it too creepy. Did you see this
River was terrific. Different from anything I've seen before. And Nicola Walker. What a talent she is! In this one, her humor and playfulness comes right through. So great.
As I've said before, now that I have Tunnelbear, I can happily watch all these shows you recommend.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Nan. Delighted you enjoyed it. I'll be watching episode two tonight. I missed River, so may try to see it on catch-up tv. Glad you now have access to these shows.

Juxtabook said...

Just been catching up with From Darkness and though it has twists that were almost worth sitting through the poor characterisation, police officers undermining each other, hysterical over-reactions to everything, and the ego competition, it was a fail for me. I think Anne Marie Duffy is an excellent actress and deserved more.

The frustrating thing is that having drafted a compelling plot why did no-one connected with the production suggest (or insist) working on the flakier parts of the script!

I wish I'd read your comments earlier and given my time to Unforgotten!

spotsoftime said...

Am only just catching up with your blog so have already watched both. Would like back the time I spent watching From Darkness: slow, unrealistic drivel, but I'm really enjoying Unforgotten. Nicola Walker is great in both that and River and I think River is my favourite!

Martin Edwards said...

Juxtabook, Spotsoftime, thanks for your comments. I'm continuing to enjoy Unforgotten, and I'll blog about it again once the series of over. From Darkness - I agree there was some improvement in the final episode. But...oh dear.