Monday 23 April 2018

DVD reviews

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

The Fall

Sunday/Monday, RTE1/BBC2, 9.30PM/9PM

D-Day: The Last Heroes

Monday, BBC1, 9pm

The Call Centre

Monday, BBC3, 9PM

Before we completely lose the run of ourselves, we should remember that The Fall is not really a ground-breaking, taboo-shattering, glass-wall-shattering crime drama. Likewise, it is not, as one of the more excitable British papers claimed the other day, "The most repulsive drama ever shown by the BBC".

But while it may not have scaled those heights or plumbed those depths, The Fall, which finished its first season on a muted note, was undeniably superior television.

Obviously borrowing heavily from American influences – the last episode even seemed more like one of those American mid-run breaks than an actual season finale – The Fall has been more than capably carried by the two leads, Gillian Anderson's cop, Stella Gibson, and Jamie Dornan's serial killer, Paul Spector.

And while the sight of a glacial Gibson taking control in the aftermath of a suicide while all around her lost their nerve was a nice poke in the eye for the blokes who may have doubted her credentials, there weren't too many overly clunky attempts to prove that she's more than Nancy Drew with nice nail varnish – although as the viewers learned, nail varnish can be a surprisingly effective investigative tool.

But as compelling as Anderson is, Jamie Dornan's Spector was the revelation.

Those critics who objected to a hottie being a serial killer had obviously never seen pictures of Ted Bundy and it's no surprise that Spector's character was also partially inspired by Dennis Rader, the happy family man better known as the infamous BTK serial killer.

We learn that Spector is the product of the care system and when his wife tearfully tells him that she can't know him, because she has no idea about his family or background, he looks as confused and bereft as she does.

As Gibson and Spector made contact for the first time, as he taunted her on the phone before attempting his escape, I was reminded of one thing – despite the hype and fascination with serial killers, they are invariably deathly dull creatures made remarkable only by their habit of making human necklaces.

With the news now that Spector is just another empty psychopath who was broken by social services, it will be interesting to see if the next season can maintain his air of mystery and charismatic menace as he tries to stay ahead of Gibson's clutches.

But if what we have seen so far is anything to go by, that shouldn't be a problem.

Q Last week has seen plenty of welcome focus placed on D-Day and it was interesting to see the differences between the way the BBC handled it compared to Channel 4.

Channel 4 went for an unnecessarily gimmicky real time, on-line/TV merger thingy than saw fake Twitter accounts from soldiers on the ground that worked brilliantly as an educational resource for schools but felt patronising when part of a supposedly serious documentary.

The BBC was marginally better, but both shared one inescapable fact – Peter Snow presented the Channel 4 effort, while his son Dan helmed the BBC one.

I suppose when it comes to work, then the Snows really are the true victors of the war.

Q I tuned into the first episode of The Call Centre and didn't review it because I genuinely thought it was all a prank. And not a very funny one.

Nev Wilshire is the boss of a Welsh call centre which seems to operate off some weird David Brent spectrum that may be beyond parody – setting up staff members whether they liked it or not, openly discussing employees' sex lives, that sort of thing.

So I dipped back in this week – and it was a vision of employment hell.

Nev, all six foot plus of him, wandered around with the deranged air of someone who thinks he's a tribal chieftain and not just a bloke running a call centre whose oh-so-brittle bonhomie could snap at any moment.

Say what you like about Northern serial killers, I'll take my chances with them over being stuck in a lift with Nev, that's for sure.

Irish Independent

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