I’m always interested to read reviews of books I’ve read, films and TV programmes I’ve watched and music I’ve listened to.  I don’t always expect to agree with the review, but it’s interesting to get a different perspective on something, observations from a different angle. However, sometimes a review is so opposite to my opinion, I wonder if we’ve been reading/watching/listening to the same thing.

A couple of days ago I wrote about the glut of brilliant British TV programmes there are at the moment, and I mentioned two which I am absolutely gripped by, BBC’s ‘River’ and ITV’s ‘Unforgotten’. There was a review of the latter in our paper a couple of days ago, and I was almost shocked at the difference in the reviewer’s thoughts and mine.

Chris Bennion describes the series as ‘hard to love’… well, loving a programme about murder isn’t what’s intended – I can’t imagine anyone saying they loved ‘The Killing’ or ‘Waking the Dead’ or ‘Broadchurch’ – such terrific programmes are admired, are much praised, are followed and the box sets bought, but ‘loving’ doesn’t come into stories about rape and murder and abuse…

Bennion in my opinion, damns it with faint praise by describing it as ‘solid’ criticises the number of episodes as not giving enough time to offer any ‘real investment’ in the different and complicated strands of plot. Some series have twenty or more episodes, and sometimes the permutations of plot lines within what amounts to a whole day of a programme becomes stretched and thin and unbelievable. To me, the tight plotting, the great writing, the subtle and nuanced acting by everyone, even the semi-silent characters holds the whole thing together so that it is gripping viewing from the opening to the closing sequences.

It is a stellar cast, Nicola Walker, Bernard Hill, Trevor Eve, Tom Courtney, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Frances Tomelty, Hannah Gordon, Clare Goose, Peter Egan, Cherie Lunghi, Gemma Jones… Binnion describes Walker as one-dimensional, lacking personality and that she is ‘putting in a performance that could be airlifted into almost any crime drama of the last 20 years‘; of Bhaskar he says ‘his involvement has been so inconsequential it’s almost a cameo’ and Ruth Sheen is ‘reduced to hangdog misery and a bout of projectile philosophy’. I’ve watched a heck of a lot of crime drama and I think Walker leaps out of the screen every time she’s on, a slight grimace, a twitched eyebrow, an intake of breath… she doesn’t need to speak or do to act the part of DCI Cassie Stuart. Similarly with Bhaskar, his performance in my mind is solid and realistic and believable, showboating is not required in TV like this.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and Chris Binnion is to his, but I was just very surprised he was quite so damning about something everyone I have spoken to is utterly intrigued by,and can’t imagine what the final outcome might be! The final episode is next week… maybe after that I might agree with Binnion! (… but I doubt it!!)


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