Paula is a chemistry teacher who’s not having much luck in the men dept.
Her best hope of late is having an affair with PE teacher Phiip, who’s married, then she discovers a rat infestation downstairs… in the basement, that is – it’s not a euphemism.
Enter builder James (Tom Hughes), who appears to live with two women and all their children. He also has a mother suffering from dementia in a nursing home, and he shows his nasty side when he tries to fleece her of what little cash she has left. Paula’s (Denise Gough) home life isn’t much better – she has a brother, Callum, living in a garage and getting up at 4.30 in the afternoon, whilst at other times, despite having lights on in her house, the whole place still looks completely in the dark. Was there no budget for lighting?
Before long, not content with falling over offspring at home, James looks to make a baby with Paular – so yes, he goes from sorting out her downstairs to sorting out her *downstairs* (okay, so I made that joke already, but we’re in an age of austerity).
However, while driving back from his bonk, he hears a banging and clattering coming from the rear of his van, then looks into the rear view mirror and there’s some bizarre supernatural weirdness going on as he briefly eyeballs a young girl with a sewn-up mouth, making this viewer feel like BBC2 has entered F.E.A.R.-style territory.
I’m not too familiar with Ms Gough – although she’s popped up in Guerrilla, Cuffs, and a number of videogames including Mass Effect: Andromeda, but Mr Hughes was superb in BBC2’s The Game, so it’s a shame that was unfairly canned after one series.
However, I didn’t really get his home life – is he living with TWO girlfriends? Either way, they could certainly do a damn sight better than him, given what a nasty piece of work he is. And all that’s *before* he turns into a stalker and events get grisly.
In fact, this three-part drama all looks very uneven. Maybe it’ll come together in the remaining two episodes, but this first one doesn’t quite seem to know which direction to take. It’s like it’s trying to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none.
That said, based on the trailer, below, it looks what follows will degenerate into one of those ridiculous ‘slighty unstable protagonist-versus-nutjob psycho’ ’80s and ’90s thrillers like Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Single White Female, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and so on. So, yeah, original….
After all the hype, that’s a disappointment.
Paula continues next Thurs at 9pm on BBC2, and is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on June 12th. 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.
Director: Alex Holmes
Producer: Peter Norris
Writer: Conor McPherson
Music: Samuel Sim
Paula: Denise Gough
James: Tom Hughes
Philip: Edward McLiam
Mr Henshaw: Gary Lilburn
Hogan: David Herlihy
Brady: David Pearse
Morgan: Siobhán Cullen
Crystal: Aoibhinn McGinnity
Diane: Aislín McGuckin
Mrs Morecroft: Rachael Dowling
Callum: Jonny Holden
Mary: Amelie Metcalfe
Gemma: Jane Brennan
Terry: Sean McGinley
Sarah: Aoibhe Bruce
David: Dylan Breen
McArthur: Owen McDonnell
Orla: Skye McClenaghan
Madeline: Olivia Fearon
Laurence: Edward MacLiam
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.