Monday 22 February 2021

Bloodlands - BBC TV review

Bloodlands, the first episode of which aired on the BBC last night, has a great title and is a four-part thriller set in Northern Ireland. The writer is Chris Brandon, a new name to me, but the highly experienced Jed Mercurio is involved with the production, and there's a solid professionalism about the first episode which was more than enough to persuade me to keep watching. 

James Nesbitt takes the lead role as Brannick, a cop with (surprise, surprise) a troubled past, who is called in to investigate when a haulier with links to the IRA goes missing. There is a curious connection between this incident and crimes dating back to the era of the Irish Peace Process, which were the responsibility of an undetected serial killer known as 'Goliath'. And our hero's wife was one of the victims...

I don't know Northern Ireland as well as the Republic, which I've visited several times, but although the atmosphere is brooding, the scenes at a lough, where a small island yields its secrets at the end of the first episode, are a reminder that this is a country I've long wanted to see more of. One of the these days, maybe...

The main reservation I have is that the plotting verges on the clunky. I thought Brannick's behaviour when he went to visit the wife of the missing man was improbably naive and it seemed to be designed to create tension. Too artificial to convince, alas. And when the cops followed a lead to the island, the way they got confused about its rather simple geography was unimpressive to say the least. Again, it was a contrivance that was desperately unsubtle. But even if one deducts marks for these failings, there is enough grip in the storyline to make this worth watching again.

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