VIGIL – SERIES 2 (2023, UK, 6 x 55-58m, 15) ***½
Written by Tom Edge, James Smythe, Maryam Hamidi, Ryan O’Sullivan & Matilda Wnek (based on an original idea by George Aza-Selinger and characters created by Tom Edge)
Directed by Andy De Emmony, Joss Agnew
Produced by Marcus Wilson
Starring: Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Dougray Scott, Romola Garai, Gary Lewis, Chris Jenks, David Elliot, Oscar Salem, Nebras Jamali, Amir El-Masry, Steven Elder.
This second go-round for Suranne Jones as Detective Chief Inspector Amy Silva sees her investigate when a British Air Force weapons test goes disastrously wrong, resulting in her travelling to the fictional Kingdom of Wudyan where she begins to uncover secrets hidden within the respective governments. Where the first series had a claustrophobic tension due to its submarine setting, this story adopts a much broader scope over its twin locations. As such the tension is reduced, whilst the action is increased, and the focus is moved to the conspiratorial elements of the plot. Jones and Leslie have established a strong chemistry as the detectives working on either side of the investigation and their blossoming relationship is also explored. The production is handsomely mounted and well-photographed producing a solidly entertaining mystery thriller. (BBC)
MR. BATES VS. THE POST OFFICE (2024, UK, 4 x 48m) ****
Written by Gwyneth Hughes
Directed by James Strong
Produced by Chris Clough
Starring: Toby Jones, Monica Dolan, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Will Mellor, Amy Nuttall, Susan Brown, Ifan Huw Dafydd, Conor Mullen, Shaun Dooley, Ian Hart, Katherine Kelly, Alex Jennings, Krupa Pattani, Amit Shah, Lia Williams, Lesley Nicol, John Hollingworth, Isobel Middleton, Mark Arends, Alex Jordan.
This thoroughly engaging drama brought to the public attention the long-running scandal surrounding the Post Office’s dealing with what it perceived to be fraud by many of its sub-postmasters but was, in fact, ultimately the result of a faulty computer system. The drama highlights the human impact rather than focusing on the technicalities behind the systemic problems. Jones is superb as the calm but resiliently obsessive postmaster who leads the fight back against the post office and how he galvanises a group of desperate individuals into an ultimately powerful unit. With the drama stretching over several years, Hughes avoids getting too drawn into the detail, and whilst this enables the human dramas to drive the story it does feel like there is more to the story than we see on screen. The Horizon computer system and the company that manufactured and maintained it were largely kept at a distance. There is no doubt, however, about the series’s impact on public opinion, which has resulted in government intervention to ensure the victims are adequately compensated and convictions quashed. (ITV)
FOOL ME ONCE (2024, UK/USA, 8 x 50m, 15) ***
Written by Daniel Brocklehurst, Charlotte Coben, Yemi Oyefuwa, Nina Metivier, Tom Farrelly (based on the novel by Harlan Coben)
Directed by David Moore, Nimer Rashed
Starring: Michelle Keegan, Adeel Akhtar, Richard Armitage, Joanna Lumley, Dino Fetscher, Emmett J. Scanlan, Joe Armstrong, Marcus Garvey, Jade Anouka, Dänya Griver, Anthony Howell, Laurie Kynaston, Hattie Morahan, James Northcote.
This initially intriguing, but increasingly far-fetched and drawn-out mystery thriller sees Keegan playing a former armed forces helicopter pilot and widowed mum, Maya, who is disturbed by an image of her late husband captured on her toddler’s nanny cam. As she digs deeper into the mystery, she begins to uncover dark family secrets which also are connected to the previous murder of her sister. Keegan does her best to carry the story along and Lumley is always a pleasure. The standout performance is from Akhtar, who adds humour and pathos to his role as a detective with a troubling medical condition that leads to him having blackouts. For those who can buy into this dark world then there will be plenty to enjoy, despite it being a couple of episodes too long. (Netflix)