Bloodlands begins with a 4×4 vehicle belonging to a Pat Keenan (Peter Ballance), being pulled out of the sea, while at the same time, a man has phoned the police advisng they’ve also kidnapped him, possibly because Keenan has worked with the IRA.
Cop friend DCS Jackie Toomey (Lorcan Cranitch) warns DCI Tom Brannick (James Nesbitt) that if he digs into this case, it could “start a war” and bring up all the problems of the past, and that he should put it behind him… but of course, Tom’s a maverick and only plays by his own rules… and due to what else the baddies had unofficially done previously, he’s got a score to settle. So, this time… it’s personal!
As such, even Keenan’s wife, Clare (Kathy Kiera Clarke), hasn’t yet reported him missing, making this feel like Marcella Series 3 – yet another case of ‘hard man’ wankers who like to take the law into their own hands, and end up looking quite the berks. Also like the current Anna Friel series, some of these stereotyped Irish characters are also well practiced in shouting and giving each other mean looks.
Elsewhere, as soon as Tom started talking to a random nurse in the hospital, Tori Matthews (Lisa Dwan), I figured she was a wrong ‘un. Typical soap opera-style plant. Would I be right?
Another soap-opera nonsense is that Nesbitt’s hard-bitten cop is partnered with a ‘wet behind the ears’ rookie in DS Niamh McGovern (Charlene McKenna). When he can’t see the wood for the trees, can she trip over the answer with ease? Oh, and the fact that James Nesbitt is just playing James Nesbitt. A shame really since when he was the evil killer in ITV’s 2016 drama, The Secret, he was surprisingly good.
Beyond that: 1998 Good Friday Agreement… blah blah blah, secrets from the past… blah blah blah, lying villains that can be seen right through as clear as day… blah blah blah.
Obviously, no spoilers, but everything just felt so predictable down to the last iota. I’ve seen more stronger Irish drama in Father Ted.
Bloodlands trills that it comes from the “Executive Producer of Bodyguard and Line Of Duty“, i.e. Jed Mecurio. However, Executive Producer can mean anything from ‘doing a lot’ to ‘doing nothing but owning the production studio’, so it’s a meaningless citation.
Note that I watched this preview without subtitles. I’d highly recommend you have them on for the very strong Northern Irish accents.
Bloodlands begins tonight on BBC1 at 9pm. It’s a four-part series over four weeks, and it can be pre-ordered on DVD, ahead of its release on March 22nd.
After broadcast, the first episode will be on the BBC iPlayer. Well, although it hasn’t been confirmed, I’m presuming the entire series will be there, too, as that is the way these days.
Episode 1 Score: 2/10
Director: Pete Travis
Producer: Christopher Hall
Writer: Chris Brandon
Music: Ruth Barrett
DCI Tom Brannick: James Nesbitt
DCS Jackie Toomey: Lorcan Cranitch
DS Niamh McGovern: Charlene McKenna
Pat Keenan: Peter Ballance
Tori Matthews: Lisa Dwan
Izzy Brannick: Lola Petticrew
Ben McFarland: Caolan Byrne
Clare Keenan: Kathy Kiera Clarke
Linda Corry: Valerie Lilley
Heather Pentland: Susan Lynch
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.