ROLAND WHITE reviews the weekend’s TV: Who’s here to cheer us all up? Oh no – it’s Detective Despair
ROLAND WHITE reviews the TV of the weekend: Who’s here to cheer us up? Oh no – it’s Detective Despair
McDonald and Dodds
What we could really do at this point is something cheerful to cheer us up in the face of strikes, holiday chaos, inflation and the rest. And what did we get last night? James Nesbitt.
He’s a fine actor, but no one despairs like him. For added gloom, he played a detective (of course he was) in a thriller adapted from a harrowing Scandi noir.
The original version of Suspect (C4) was a Danish hit called Forhoret (‘Interrogation’). Nesbitt plays Detective Danny Frater, who one day arrives at the morgue for a routine examination and discovers that the body on the record is his estranged daughter, Christina.
James Nesbitt plays a detective in a thriller to a harrowing Scandi noir
Nesbitt’s face almost collapsed in front of us in eight half-hour episodes
The next moments were grueling and tense, even by Nesbitt’s exacting standards in this demanding field. His face nearly collapsed in front of us.
Pathologist Joely Richardson insisted that Christina hanged herself, but Danny is a maverick detective with a chaotic personal life and so, according to the rigid rules of TV drama, he naturally thinks it was murder. He has eight half-hour episodes to catch the killer.
By the end of last night’s two episodes, he’d discovered that Christina, supposedly an events manager, owned a suspiciously posh flat. And what is her connection to a lap dance club? And was she dealing drugs?
Nesbitt was excellent; he always is. But what stood out about Suspect was its stripped-down, bare-bones size. It had an almost theatrical feel to it, with each episode usually played out as a set piece between Nesbitt and another actor.
It was also unusual to see Danny and Christina’s wife share a cigarette in episode two. At least until Danny remembered, “I don’t really smoke.”
Hardly anyone does anymore – and certainly not on television.
If you were in the mood for a lighter approach to law and order, McDonald And Dodds (ITV) returned for a third series.
Belvedere, last night’s episode, was actually Inspector Morse with jokes.
There was a picturesque urban setting: Bath in this case, rather than Morse’s Oxford. There was a suspicious professor, played by Alan Davies, to give a high-quality veneer.
Located in picturesque Bath, McDonald and Dodds is one of the few places on radio or television where you’ll hear a West Country accent
Jason Watkins plays DS Dodds in series 3 of the ITV series
There was even a vintage car, a shiny Triumph Stag driven by suspect Sian Phillips, who played the professor’s rather feisty 99-year-old mother. DCI McDonald (Tala Gouveia) and DS Dodds (Jason Watkins) have a somewhat syrupy approach to their work. They seem to blame pretty much every citizen who crosses their path.
After a young woman was found dead in a park with a strange smile on her face, prime suspects turned up as targets at a fairground shooting range. I counted five in all – six if you count one that was charged twice.
Besides, McDonald and Dodds is one of the few places on radio or television where you’ll hear a West Country accent. Jason Watkins (Dodds) could have auditioned for The Wurzels.
He is originally from the West Midlands. I am originally from Somerset. In my ears there was not a vowel that was out of place.
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS is gone.