I haven’t been keeping count, but what feels like the BBC’s tenth conspiracy drama this year stars Philip Glenister as shabby-round-the-edges solicitor Harry Venn. The pre-publicity suggested that Venn is a womanizer, although as he only sleeps with one woman this week – and his ex-wife at that – we’ll need to take that on trust for now. Oh, and he snorts half a line of charlie at one point, just to drive the characterization home.
Anyway, he’s in his office with his name on the door when a mysterious woman with a mysterious unplaceable foreign accent wanders in claiming to be a solicitor herself, and offering him money to trace someone she needs as a witness. All she needs is a T-shirt with “Femme Fatale” on it and we’d know where we are. Harry’s intrigued, of course, and tries to find out more about her but, this being noir, she remains mysterious.
As does the rest of the plot. Something about Harry’s involvement in a shooting years ago, his brother, and a Dutch woman who gets killed in France (carrying a baguette, of course, in case we missed les hints Francais). There’s also a big political subplot with an apparently dodgy Prime Minister, against a background of riots, trying to form a new coalition while a smiling rival waits in the wings. More than that I really couldn’t say. Perhaps Venn will draw us a diagram. Heh. See what I did there?
After years of refusing to touch the stuff I’ve been giving British drama a go recently, and you know what? I was right. It’s not bad, but it’s not as good as the American shows. From the ones I’ve seen over the last couple of years, Hidden takes conspiracy (The Shadow Line, The Hour, Exile), Philip Glenister playing loutish (Ashes To Ashes), a scene-stealing Anna Chancellor (The Hour), moves them around a bit, and comes up with something both familiar and utterly baffling. Now that I’ve started I’ll probably keep watching, but if you haven’t seen it yet I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.