Thursday, June 27, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Fall, season 1 (2013) ***½

TV-MA, 5 60-min. episodes
Creator: Allan Cubitt
Directors: Jakob Verbruggen
Writers: Allan Cubitt
Starring: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Bronagh Waugh, Niamh McGrady, John Lynch, Sarah Beattie, David Beattie, Siohban McSweeney, Michael McElhatton, Ian McElhinney, Gerard Jordan, Simon Delaney, Frank McCusker, Ben Peel, Emmett Scanlan, Aisling Franciosi, Lisa Hogg, Archie Panjabi, Nick Lee, Karen Hassan, Laura Donnelly, Stuart Graham, Eugene O’Hare, Gerard McCarthy, Séainín Brennan, Lucy McConnell, Brenda McNeill, Brian Milligan, Chris Corrigan, B.J. Hogg, Tara Lynn O’Neill

Americans are interested in the whodunit aspect of the crime story; not the actual who, but the mystery of it. British audiences seem to be more interested in the mechanics of it all. The mechanics of the investigation, the mechanics of the criminal act, the specifics of the psychology that goes into both sides, and the ever-present criminal element on the side of the law.

The new British television serial “The Fall” is in the same tradition of other recent British television crime stories, like the “Red Riding Trilogy”. It examines the crimes of a serial killer on a very intimate level. We get to know the killer and his family. We get to know the police investigators and their weaknesses and strengths. We get to know how the killer works and why. We get to know more details about such investigations than “CSI” will ever go into.

Gillian Anderson plays the chief investigator, who comes with her own unique baggage, or rather lack there of. This is no “X-Files” investigation. The victims and perpetrators are real people, not men in rubber suits. Anderson proves her ability to carry heavy dramatic weight and that she can blend right in with an otherwise entirely British cast.

The killer is a family man. The show goes to lengths to explain that he is very much like any family man; but his crimes excite him. They’re like a pornography that he stashes away from his family. His daily normal life seems perfectly natural even though the audience is well aware of his terribly depraved crimes.

The politics behind the police investigation is the third dramatic aspect of the show. Like “Red Riding” the Belfast police force has some internal issues. Anderson’s DSI is brought in from London to evaluate the progress of a murder investigation. She believes another murder is related. When the killer strikes again, she’s proved right; and the department must now deal with the public relations mess of a serial killer on the loose.

The series is moody. It’s dark. It isn’t filled with “characters” that have their own little catchphrases and quirks. They are tasked with a job in which they are experts. In life, they aren’t so expert. The series is a brief five episodes for its first season. I hope the BBC already has season two in the can, so we can get some closure from its unresolved ending soon.

No comments: