In The Dark poses a dilemma for DI Helen Weeks (MyAnna Buring – Prey), a cop who’s pregnant, so really shouldn’t be chasing ne’er-do-wells down rainy Manchester streets (and I really felt the punch delivered to Helen’s stomach in the first scene, given her condition), but just as she breaks the news to her partner, Paul (Ben Batt) – who’s also a cop, news breaks about a suspected child kiler in Derbyshire. Not only has the crime taken place near her original family home, but also the suspect, Stephen Bates (Daniel Scott), is the husband of her school best friend, Linda (Ideal‘s Emma Fryer). Hence, despite not having seen her in years, she still feels a duty towards her.
Of course, returning to the fold brings back elements she’d long since forgotten, and which she’d wish had stayed forgotten – once she’s reminded of them, so it won’t be all plain sailing.
The first episode also took in a ‘forced to confront your past’-type moment, as if the writers are trying to thrown in supernatural Flatliners-style elements in there, which was a bit odd, but overall, I found this first installment very intriguing and I think this will increase as the plot puts more meat on the bones and fleshes it out.
Ms Buring is always an engaging watch, and Emma Fryer puts on a superb term as is Steven’s wife, struggling to come to terms with what her husband may or may not have done… or does she know more than she’s letting on? That’s not clear by the end of the first episode.
For the rest of the cast I didn’t recognise Matt King at first, here as forensics officer Phil Hendricks, but he’s best known for Peep Show‘s Superhans. I knew he was in it (hey, that’s how opening credits work!), but I didn’t recognise him from his hairstyle and rather dapper accent. Also in this is Emma’s Ideal co-star Sinead Matthews (aka Jenny) as another old school friend of Helen’s, called Paula, plus the ever-reliable Ashley Walters as cop DI Tim Cornish, a friend of Paul’s.
If I had any complaints, it’s that I really love seeing Manchester on TV, and the drama quickly moved to the countryside, but you can’t have everything 🙂
What I will say, is that we certainly need more Emma Fryer and Matt King on our screens! It’s been far too long.
Update: Now I’ve seen the whole series, I think all four episodes were a solid 8/10, and I liked how it ended up as two separate storylines in a four-part series, not least because it saw a return back to Manchester for the last two, but also making it feel reminiscent of last year’s New Blood, which was three storylines over seven episodes.
While episode three delivered shocks I wasn’t expecting (and I won’t say what, as it’s still on the iPlayer), if I had any reservations, it’s that when each of the two storylines reached a conclusion, they both went a bit ‘Hollywood stupid’. For the first one, the fate of the baddie and how they met their match was a nonsense, while when the second one unmasked the baddie behind it all, it was a well-worn trope that made no sense and couldn’t have been more silly even if Scooby Doo and the gang had turned up to unmask the culprit. Despite that, I do hope it returns for a second series, as it was nicely stylish and still far better than most things on telly these days.
In The Dark continues next Tuesday at 9pm on BBC1, and is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on July 10th. If you missed it, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission, and click on the DVD packshot for the full-size version.
Series Directors: Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen and Gilles Bannier
Producer: Hugh Warren
Series Writers: Mark Billingham and Daniel Brocklehurst
DI Helen Weeks: MyAnna Buring
DI Paul Hopkins: Ben Batt
DI Adam Perrin: David Leon
Linda Bates: Emma Fryer
DCI Jack Gosforth: Jamie Sives
Robert Weeks: Clive Wood
Trevor Hare: Pearce Quigley
DC Sophie Carson: Jessica Gunning
Paula Days: Sinead Matthews
Jenny: Georgia Tennant
Phil Hendricks: Matt King
DI Tim Cornish: Ashley Walters
Poppy Johnston: Claire Cornmell
Young Helen: Sophie Bloor
ACC Francis Harris: Tobias Beer
Annette Johnston: Eve Robertson
Stephen Bates: Daniel Scott
Shelley: Joey Batey
Magpie Waitress: Claudia Mirallegro
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.