silent witness
Thursday, 16 August 2012

Television Review: 17 August

Michael Moran is excited by grisly detective drama, but let down by some political satire

Written by Michael Moran
Michael-Moran1Silent Witness concludes its run this week with a potentially explosive double episode (19 August, BBC One).

'And Then I Fell In Love', originally slated for transmission in April, explores a seedy underworld of grooming and sexual exploitation that bore a coincidental resemblance to the case of nine men in Rochdale that came to trial at Easter. As you can imagine from the subject matter, it's a grim business. Sensitively made, it never strays into the ghoulish but no one could ever call it lighthearted entertainment.

Perhaps it's something to do with government cuts, but Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) and her colleague Doctor Handsome (Tom Ward), seem to have gone part time. Now and then they breeze into the lab where the show is notionally set to do a quick autopsy but, by and large, spend their time wandering around the streets of Manchester having adventures.

A couple of fortuitous accidents have to occur in order to involve the team in the case. Mercifully, though, they never build into the indigestible cavalcade of coincidences that blights Thirteen Steps Down, the Ruth Rendell mystery currently running on ITV.

There's the usual dissection of grisly-looking lumps of beef jerky that we are assured are murder victims. There's the usual flouting of police procedure where forensic pathologists pitch up at witnesses' houses and start asking awkward questions. In fact, there's some shockingly slipshod policing all round. If procedures were followed correctly though, it'd be a much duller show.

There's a good deal more time spent with the perpetrators of the villainy than usual but, barring that, it's a fairly typical week in the Silent Witness world. Or at least it will be until after transmission, when I imagine there will be some measure of furore. And not just about Doctor Dreamy's perfectly nice bath being interrupted...

There can hardly be a person in Britain left untouched by the criminal carelessness of our current generation of politicians. The time has never been riper for a trenchant political satire show that exposes the occasional venality and quotidian haplessness of the political class.

That old warhorse Have I Got News For You ambles on, but with Armando Iannucci's attention currently on Veep in the US, there's a need for something cheeky and new poking fun at the Establishment.

The Revolution Will Be Televised (Wednesday, 10pm on BBC Three) starts with a bold mission statement: 'Our world is full of hypocrisy, corruption and greed. Someone has to fight back. Shame it had to be these two'. That last part is, I imagine, supposed to be a bit of joshing self-deprecation. Unfortunately, it's the most accurate hit of the show. The Revolution Will Be Televised identifi es a range of easy targets, but fails to do anything new with them. It wants to be Chris Morris in his heyday, but comes across as a shouty, slightly-too-full-of-itself rag-week magazine. What a waste.

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