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Monday, 17 June 2013

Television Review: The Fall

I knew we were in for trouble when I heard that The Fall had been recommissioned for a second series. My fervent hope was that the first series would at least tie up its loose ends and a second series would focus on another case. No such luck. I was left feeling cheated by an ending designed to thwart the audience which also had the misfortune of making one of the protagonists seem the slightest bit dim. Not really appropriate for a character who has gracefully pursued the serial killer up until this point. But let's start with the positive aspects.

The Fall tells the story of a serial killer in Northern Ireland. Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) has been brought over from the MET to investigate one death but she quickly links another to it and soon another body turns up. Unlike most serial killer dramas, though, the audience knows that Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is the killer and we follow him as he stalks his victims whilst still maintaining his job as a bereavement counsellor and being a good husband and father. 

I had no issues with the slow, almost torturous, pace of the main plot. It felt realistic and toyed with the emotions of the audience, particularly in the first episode when we get very involved in the life of lawyer Sarah Kay (Laura Donnelly). Showing Paul's relationship with his wife, Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh), and his daughter, Olivia (Sarah Beattie), infiltrated us into the life of this serial killer remarkably well. There were many excellent scenes, even a few amusing ones, strange as that sounds. The dialogue was also wonderfully written for the most part, slow and thought-provoking. Up until the final few minutes of the final episode I was content with the way the plot had progressed. 

Something I wasn't as happy with were the superfluous subplots. I realise they were trying to establish a team environment, and throw in some typically Irish problems too, but it detracted rather than added to the overall effect. I honestly didn't care who shot the policeman and why there were foreign prostitutes being beaten up or the fact that another police officer blew his brains out - it had absolutely nothing to do with the main story, which was the reason I was watching, and those loose ends weren't tied up either. Fair enough if they planned another series (though I'm not sure if 'planned' is the correct word given how they almost tied up the main plot then unravelled it rapidly) but, still, they needed to give me a reason to care. Ultimately, there were too many characters floating around in a five-hour drama for me to care about. The core of Gibson, Jim Burns (John Lynch), Danielle Ferrington (Niamh McGrady), Spector and his family and the family of Sarah Kay was enough to keep the viewer's attention. More than that was pushing it and I think it showed. 

However, I thoroughly enjoyed The Fall for the main story and, yes, I probably will watch the second series, even if I'm disappointed with how slow they had to make Gibson in the final minutes to facilitate one. 

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