Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Shadow Line

Its been a while since there's been a real "event television" outside of the live shenanigans of the X-Factor and the like. But having caught the first two episodes of "The Shadow Line" I'm pleased that I've come to a new series as it goes out for the first time, rather than later down the line. Our much-loved HBO imports come second-hand (at least for the first series), so its great to see the BBC not only commissioning a serious multipart drama, but promoting it with some fanfare.

Christopher Ecclestone and Stephen Rea would be hooks to watch any new show of course, but "The Shadow Line" does seem a genuinely risky proposition. Its clearly not a show developed by committee, but with a vision from the writer (Hugo Blick) that has, in the first 2 episodes found its way onto the screen. Like "Internal Affairs" or "The Wire" the simple expedient of putting us in both camps - the good guys and the bad guys - works well; we are more than just voyeurs, we have a multi-dimensional view of a story that two episodes in is muddy as hell. More than that, the bad guy (Ecclestone) cares for his wife who has early onset Alzheimers, whilst the police are leaking information for money and the lead cop, (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor)has his own series-full of secrets.

The wonderfully haunting theme tune, Pause by Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo, has been following me round from the last episode but I'm also impressed by some of the staging in the show. The brilliant scenes at the end of episode 2 which saw bad guys, good guys, and a 3rd person who could be either, all trying to get hold of a witness to the murder, was psychologically thrilling. Whether or not the show is one great big shaggy dog chase, I hardly care at the moment - and look forward to the next five weeks as the story unravels in unexpected ways.

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