Thursday 22 February 2018

Tin Star Review: A Canadian Rockies cracker with top-notch acting, an Irish element and a chain of tragic events

Jessica Hendricks in Tin Star (Sky Atlantic)
Jessica Hendricks in Tin Star (Sky Atlantic)
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

I don’t know is it the Rupert Murdoch connection or what, but Sky Atlantic’s original programming gets, I feel, an unfair press. In the last few years they’ve produced two seasons of Fortitude – one of the best and most original dramas in recent times.

This year saw Riviera, which wasn’t in the same class but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless: trashy, glossy, OTT and extremely entertaining.Now comes Tin Star, a ten-part thriller starring Tim Roth and Irish actress Genevieve O’Reilly.

We got a sneak peek at the first episode, and this could be a real cracker. Roth and O’Reilly lead as Jim and Angela Worth, an English-Irish couple recently emigrated from London to the small Alberta town of Little Big Bear, nestling under the Canadian Rockies.

Along with teenage daughter Anna and small son Petey, they’re fleeing the past. Jim is an alcoholic, a former Met cop with a very dark side – his undercover alter-ego, Jack Devlin, was as bad as any criminal, and threatened to tear apart Jim himself and the entire family

Now he attends AA meetings and works as Sheriff of Little Big Bear. Angela tries to fit in to the community; Anna, in classically melodramatic teenager fashion, hates small-town life.

Be grateful for what you have, et cetera: a huge oil concern, North Stream Oil, opens a refinery outside town. An influx of migrant workers brings rising crime levels; the refinery brings pollution.

After raising concerns, a doctor friend of Jim dies, apparently by suicide but he’s suspicious.

He starts to ask awkward questions of North Stream and their too-smooth PR guru, played by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks.

Then one night, the Worths’ home is attacked by gunmen…and an awful chain of tragic events is set in place.

The opener is tense, pacey and cinematic (those gargantuan Rockies and oceanic open skies look fantastic).

As you’d expert, there’s top-notch acting from Roth, Hendricks and O’Reilly among others; the clash-of-cultures elements are funny at times and, as anyone who’s lived abroad will appreciate, painfully true at others.

It sets the foundations for this fictional universe in a smart, unforced way – there’s a minimum of clumsy exposition – and ends with a genuinely shocking conclusion that tees up the rest of the series nicely.

Revenge lies ahead, as Jim rediscovers his inner Mr Hyde and channels the monster inside for the greater good.

Revenge: bloody, inexorable, justified…and thrilling, in that queasy way these things often are on-screen. I’ll be there to see how it all plays out.

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