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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Television Review: Homefront

This six-part series tells the story of four women with connections to the army who struggle with the realities of this harsh life while trying to hold things together at home. Claire Marshbrook (Claire Skinner) is about to marry Major Pete Bartham (Greg Wise) but is finding it difficult to adjust to life as potential stepmother to a teenage girl with her own mind and her own son is causing problems as he tries to fit in. Louise Mancetta (Nicola Stephenson) finds out that her husband Corporal Joe Mancetta (Warren Brown) has been seeing someone else whilst away on tour and is faced with the decision of whether to try and salvage their marriage for the sake of their two daughters or to cut her losses. Tasha Raveley (Antonia Thomas) faces her worst nightmare in episode one when her husband is killed in Afghanistan, leaving her with a young son to bring up. Rounding off the quartet is Tasha's mother-in-law, Paula Raveley (Clare Higgins), an ex-army wife herself who now has to deal with the loss of her youngest son.

There's no denying that Homefront stands up as a piece of drama. It has all the ingredients - death, extra marital affairs, family meltdown - and a top-notch cast who make their characters utterly believable. I think a special mention has to go to George Costigan as Howard Raveley, Paula's husband and the dead soldier's father. He portrayed a grieving yet stoical father perfectly and his scenes throughout the series were some of the most touching. I have to say, though, that I found some of the storyline progressions predictable. I'm not sure if this was a product of lax writing in some respects or whether the signposts were just too clear. Knowing what's coming is not always a bad thing but surprise is also pivotal in a drama like this, and there was only one utterly unpredictable moment through the six episodes which had me genuinely uncertain which way it would go and that was a Joe/Louise moment in episode five. A drama should have more suspense than that.

Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable series. However, the nature of the programme means that if there's a second series there will have to be some potentially irritating character reversals. If there isn't another series then I think it was rounded off rather nicely.

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