You don’t have to be a detective to investigate crime on television. Anyone with the slightest connection to the police can do it.
Emilia Fox, as pathologist Nikki Alexander, has been capturing killers on Silent Witness for years. Two separate Family Liaison Officers recently solved brutal cases: Morven Christie in The Bay and Sally Lindsay on Intruder.
Now it’s Neighborhood Watch’s turn. Noel Clarke stars in Viewpoint (ITV) as a curtain cracker who watches the street after a schoolteacher goes missing.
He set up telescopes and VCRs to spy on the missing teacher’s friend across the street. Then he rushed to pick up his son, with strict instructions to Zoe (Alexandra Roach) not to touch any of the items
Noel’s character, DC Martin Young, isn’t really from the local Neighborhood Watch, mind you. He’s not half as professional.
DC Martin works for the “Police Guard Unit” and appeared at the door of single mother Zoe’s apartment and demanded that he take over her daughter’s bedroom.
He set up telescopes and VCRs to spy on the missing teacher’s friend across the street. Then he rushed to pick up his son, with strict instructions to Zoe (Alexandra Roach) not to touch any of the items.
Ten minutes later, curious Parker Zoe led the investigation herself. It’s hard to know what’s more troubling: the idea that the police can capture family homes to monitor anyone who reports a missing person, or that other neighborhood guards are so easily around.
I preferred the schedule when it was all about keeping an eye out for loiterers, with a coffee morning and bourbon cookies every Tuesday.
The show has a brilliant supporting cast. Catherine Tyldesley of Coronation Street is the teacher’s neighbor, dripping with money, who catches DC Martin’s attention – he spends more time on his night vision on her than on the suspect, Greg (Fehinti Balogun).
The show has a brilliant supporting cast. Catherine Tyldesley from Coronation Street is the teacher’s neighbor, dripping with money, who catches DC Martin’s attention – he spends more time on his night vision on her than on the suspect, Greg (Fehinti Balogun)
Phil Davis is DC Martin’s boss, and Ian Puleston-Davies is a former detective turned peeping tom.
Much of Viewpoint is simply inexplicable. Why does Officer Martin start rummaging around Zoe’s flat, finding joints in the ashtray and a gin bottle under the sofa before unpacking his bag?
Why doesn’t he tell Zoe’s estranged husband that he’s a police officer, instead of the guy assuming he’s her new boyfriend?
And since Zoë carries a full glass of red wine in her flat all day and slurps like she was washing down aspirin, how can she survive?
Don’t expect answers, although Viewpoint airs every night this week. And you will have to bring your own bourbons.
The neighborhood guards were in plain sight when Jessie (Rose Matafeo) stumbled out of her new boyfriend’s posh home, in the new romantic sitcom Starstruck (BBC1). While Jessie had only just worked this out, her dude (Nikesh Patel) was a Hollywood actor – and the audience was paparazzi.
This is Notting Hill, with the genders reversed, and anyone who loved Hugh Grant as an innocent innocent in love with a superstar will find Matafeo just as charming and twice as believably vulnerable. “I had sex with him again this morning,” she gasps to her best friend, Kate, “and I was barely drunk!”
“Oh,” Kate giggles, “so sweet.”
Sitting in bed with the man she calls ‘Famous Tom’, Jessie can’t hide how impressed she is with his success. “And what about that,” she says, pointing to a painting, “how much did that cost?”
But when she realizes he is already in a serious relationship, she walks away.
While it’s sometimes too ready to bend over for cheap laughs, Starstruck leaves you wanting to know if Tom and Jessie are getting back together.
And you don’t have to wait: all episodes are now on iPlayer.
Bonkers tips of the night: Cleaning guru Peachy urged us, on How To Save A Grand In 24 Hours (C4), to smear Fairy Liquid on the windows, fabric softener on the radiators and baking soda on the couch. Unless Covid keeps you from smelling, I wouldn’t say these aren’t great ideas.