Wednesday 10 February 2021

Mind Games - 2001 TV drama

It's twenty years since Mind Games, written by Lynda LaPlante, aired on TV, but I only caught up with it recently. I must admit I'd never heard of it before, but the summary sounded tempting and there's no denying that Lynda LaPlante is a highly accomplished exponent of TV crime drama. I still recall the brilliance of the original Prime Suspect, one of the outstanding shows of its day. Helen Mirren was superb as Jane Tennison but the script did her proud.

Mind Games benefits from having another talented actor, Fiona Shaw, in the lead. She plays Frances O'Neill, a detective inspector who has made a specialism of criminal profiling. She's quite obsessive about her work and there's a touch of mystery about her past. I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that she is soon revealed to be a former nun. Quite a backstory...

She's called in to assist following the discovery of a ritualistic killing, the second in a few days. Both victims were women, who were bound to a chair in their own homes. But the houses weren't broken into - so why did the victims admit their own killers? A local plumber who was having an affair with one of the dead women and seems to have a connection with the other is the obvious suspect. But we know better than to concentrate exclusively on the obvious suspect, don't we?

The story is told with the pace that is necessary to ensure the suspension of the viewer's disbelief. The supporting cast, including Finbar Lynch and Chietal Ejiofor, is strong, but this is Fiona Shaw's show. It's interesting to look back on the cutting edge forensic science and forensic psychology deployed in the storyline and to see how much has changed over twenty years. Profiling remains highly relevant, but I don't think people have as much faith in it now as they did then. But I'm rather surprised that Frances O'Neill didn't become a series character. She seems to have been created with that in mind, but it never happened. She's very different from Jane Tennison but that backstory had a lot of potential... 



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