Crime-thriller Prey is back for a second three-part series on ITV. With a brand new cast and plot, do not fear if you didn’t tune in for series one. Set in Manchester, the first episode follows prison officer David Murdoch, played by Philip Glenister (Life on Mars), as he is caught up in the break-out attempt of one female prisoner, played by MyAnna Buring (Downton Abbey), which endangers the safety of his pregnant daughter and forces his hand to help her escape.
They are being tailed by DC Susan Reinhardt, who is assisted by DC Richard Iddon, played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, best known as Curtis in Misfits. Nathan’s character seems to be a feeble attempt to inject some youth into this genre of television, which is particularly apparent when he takes an inappropriate selfie with a dead body, defending himself by reassuring everyone that he ‘‘wasn’t going to tweet it”. Pause for laughter. Apart from this arbitrary reference to social media, the first episode seemed an inventory of classic detective clichés. Beginning with a chase scene, the rest of the episode is a flashback beginning ‘eighteen hours earlier’.
Visually, the show was gloomy, with a perpetual grey filter cast over every shot, and the settings of docks, allotments and abandoned estates added to this bleakness. The episode mostly consisted of shots of Murdoch and the prisoner running, with regular looks nervously back over their shoulders to check for police and dogs. The music was effective at heightening the tension during the key chase scene, but that was about all it offered.
The acting was consistently strong, but a dull script didn’t do anyone any favours. However, it might be that the first episode needed to lay the foundations for the two subsequent episodes. There are some obvious developments coming; the body that Reinhardt discovered before she begins chasing Murdoch and the escapee, is obviously going to be developed into a main plot-line, and the prisoner is clearly not all she seems. But the flat sameness of the dialogue and characters meant I am not particularly inclined to tune in again and find out why.