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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Television Review: Murder on the Home Front

Murder on the Home Front follows Molly Cooper (Tamzin Merchant) as she joins pathologist Dr Lennox Collins (Patrick Kennedy) in his investigation of a serial killer in war-torn London. The police think they've got their man but Collins is determined to use forensics to prove them wrong but the chase for the killer soon becomes dangerous for Molly. The cast also includes Emerald Fennell as photographer Issy Quennell, James Fleet as Professor Stephens and Richard Bremmer as mortuary assistant Charlie Maxton.

This is based loosely on the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, which explains where the rather odd concept came from. Molly Cooper is headstrong, amusing and a little bit stubborn but there still seems to be something lacking about the character. Stepping into a real person's shoes has that effect on some actors in this kind of role. I liked Molly but I didn't love her. Dr Collins, however, is likely to become a favourite character of mine. His approach to pathology is very modern in a time that wasn't really ready for it and his clashes with Professor Stephens are a good demonstration of that. I also adore Issy, who seems like much more of a real person than Molly does.

The plot of this was reasonably good and I certainly didn't work out the truth before the protagonists. However, my enjoyment was tempered by the unnecessary CGI and gore that looked frankly juvenile. There was no need to have ridiculous bomb effects in the background every time Collins stood in his flat with his curtains open. They looked unreal and added nothing to the overall story. If they'd spent more time making the close-up shots of bomb effects and damage appear realistic, I would've been a lot happier. Instead of focusing on character and plot, they decided to make it 'look spectacular' and, when you try that hard, you invariably fail. I personally got fair more pleasure from Charlie's occasional comments than the London aerial views that were supposed to make me gape. Equally, the excessive comic-book type gore that was used in certain scenes was irritating. I got the feeling that the series didn't quite know what it wanted to be and who its audience was.

All that said, I think this series has potential. The central characters have a good rapport and the concept is a good one. If they cut out the unnecessary CGI and focus on characters and plot then they could have a hit on their hands. I will certainly watch if they make more episodes.

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