Silent Witness’ eighteenth season has now come to an end, and I think I’ve finally cracked their formula. A moody cop with an upsetting back-story, some exquisitely stagnant acting on the part of our three pathologists Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern) and Jack Hodgson (David Caves), and an array of far-fetched story lines that are exponentially increasing in their implausibility. Should you bother catching up with the series before it disappears off of iPlayer and falls into the abyss? Probably not.
Squaring the Circle opened with a bloody shooting outside a posh party. A child’s nanny was killed but the reasons why unclear. Was it an attempted kidnapping? Was the killer after the child’s father, wealthy Russian oligarch Maksim Bazhanov? Cue Nikki, Thomas and Jack, overall-clad, and the usual grimy post-mortem begins. We were then introduced to the week’s DI, the grumpy Sarah Parks, whose tight ponytail and ill-fitting selection of jackets screamed ‘I’m-a-serious-police-officer’. Much the screen time was dedicated to the romantic relationship that grew between Sarah and pathologist Jack, the show’s (attempted) heartthrob. Whilst this was a nice touch, the episode was, as has been very much the case the entire season, far too focused on the emotional back-story of its transient cop. Perhaps dedicating more time to the three main characters’ personal sides would grant viewers the emotional investment this show is lacking.
Story-line wise, Squaring the Circle was tense, yet unpredictable. After the initial shooting there was another unexplained run-in with masked gunmen, a violent argument between Maksim and his wife, the introduction of Amy Greenwood, employee of the property moguls Doshi and Doshi (with whom Masksim resides) with a seemingly dodgy gangster boyfriend and whose mother is DI Parks’ boss – following? As ever with Silent Witness, all was unclear until the very end. And as if two shootings, a drowning and a dead body in a cupboard weren’t enough, the episode rounded off nicely with a suicide and finally the long-overdue arrest. Perhaps even more shocking than the show’s gratuitous gore was the revelation of brother and sister Doshi’s incestuous relationship. Or the fact that DI Parks planted evidence (a crime which, although rectified, seemed to slip by a little too easily). Blindly batting away such issues which could have been further developed left me feeling oddly cheated.
The last episodes of the series, One of our Own, brought everything to a close with an array of dodgy Essex accents and an overall uninteresting plot centered around drugs. An admired police officer is found dead in a torched car, and so enter a sappy DCI Jim Sullivan who ends up, surprise surprise, in bed next to Nikki by the ed of part one. The team hone in on the Fallons, a father and son pairing that between them have a handful of convictions for drug related offenses. We’re lead to believe the son, Dean Fallon, is the guilty one, but of course it all turns around in the last half an hour – the father, Terry Fallon is to blame! Shocker! The DCI gets shot, though survives (why kill off a good guy?) and all ends in a funeral, including the relationship that Nikki has formed.
All in all, Silent Witness’ offerings this series were true to form, but lacking in substance; it’s as if the BBC had run out of ideas, nipped out to the bank of dark and gloomy storylines and then mashed them all together. Incest, leukaemia, marital affairs, business corruption and planting evidence all in one episode was just a little too much to handle. Coupled with the show’s stilted acting and haphazard focus, I was left feeling distinctly unimpressed.
Image property of Radio Times