Prey first escaped onto our screens last year with a three-parter when John Simm went on the run for a crime he did not commit… However, he didn’t have the A-Team to hand, so he had to wing it.
Hence, series 2 pulls a blinder by showing Simm’s Life On Mars co-star, Philip Glenister, going on the run in the opening scene whilst handcuffed to MyAnna Buring, below with Glenister. After diving into a bitterly cold river, it cut back to “18 hours earlier” where the former Gene Hunt was shown exercising in a gym, making you think he was in prison, but it was a neat misdirection, since his character, David Murdoch, works on the right side of the law for the prison service in a jail full of women.
He’s suffered loss in the past year which means the only member of his family left is his beloved daughter, Lucy (Emmerdale‘s Sammy Winward), and she’s heavily pregnant so he wants to do his best by her.
Also thrown into the mix was a burnt-out car containing a charred body – possibly its owner (although in TV-land it never is) – with stab wounds, and prisoner Jules Hope (Buring), beaten up, badly injured and requiring a trip to hospital. Once there, Dave takes a call from Lucy, who says he needs to get Julie out of the hospital and to Canal Street, otherwise the man she’s with (is it her boyfriend or someone else?) will hurt her and the baby. Hence, it’s basically The Fugitive, and really, he should tell the police, but instead, so begins the chase over three episodes as everyone wants to get to the truth.
Prey‘s constant, Rosie Cavaliero returned as Susan Reinhart, embittered at the fact that Mike (Ralph Ineson – the man of 1000 voiceovers) got the DCI job she was applying for, and is also nicely sarcastic, for example when she’s having to put on protective gear for a crime scene, is asked if she’s okay putting it on and she replies, “I have been dressing myself since I was 30(!)” And when I saw her interviewed, she said that since she’s running a 72-hour manhunt, then she has no time to apply make-up, so presumably the crew use that make-up which *looks* like you haven’t put make-up on. Sounds counter-productive, but you can’t have studio lights shining off her head.
There’s a sharp script on display with other examples including new cop Richard Iddon (Utopia‘s Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) taking a selfie with the car corpse in the background, a neighbour for refusing to give his name to the police and instead calling himself “Mr Rizla” as he smokes a joint, Iddon putting his foot in it, saying telling the neighbour the man whose house they’re trying to visit was found burnt in his car, and Glenister reverting to Gene Hunt-isms when he tells the feisty Julie – as they end up handcuffed to each other – “Try anything and I’ll break your bastard wrist!”
Prey nicely revealed the elements little by little, such as Julie’s identity after we learned of the car owner’s potential death, but I thought they might’ve dropped a geographical clanger when I thought they expected the two leads to walk from Canal Street to Old Trafford… It’s not exactly down the road! Thankfully, they took a taxi. Contrast this to ITV’s engaging-but-daft badly-named (and cancelled after one series) Great Night Out which could get from The Midland Hotel, near the Manchester Central Convention Complex (although I still remember it as the G-MEX) to the Piccadilly Station approach as if they were next door!
It’s not an original concept, eg. Reinhart is a cop with her private life is going down the pan because of the demands in her job, but it’s a decent little pot-boiler and it’s more engaging than most things on TV at 9pm (especially that bloody jungle crap – which wasn’t in a jungle, it’s in a TV STUDIO!!!)
I watched this first episode on the “ITV Hub”, the new name for ITV Player, but along with the change of name, the reliability has gone downhill, since the programme kept jumping back to the start of the stream, then when you try to get to where you left off, it starts off another handful of bloody adverts again…. and one time, it got permanently stuck in playing them! Come on, ITV, sort it out!
Prey continues next Wednesday on ITV at 9pm, and it is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on January 4th 2016. If you missed it, you can watch the episode on ITV Hub, up until January 8th. Also, click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Episode 1 Score: 7.5/10
Director: Lewis Arnold
Producer: Tom Sherry
Writer/Creator: Chris Lunt
Music: Sarah Warne
David Murdoch: Philip Glenister
Jules Hope: MyAnna Buring
DS Susan Reinhart: Rosie Cavaliero
Richard Iddon: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Jeff Crabtree: Kevin Harvey
Graham Keegan: Alexis Platt
Phil Prentice: Kieran O’Brien
DCI Mike Ward: Ralph Ineson
Dr. Keeler: Rani Moorthy
Spencer: Helen Kay
Director: Joanne Dakin
Chrissy: Lisa Millett
Lucy Murdoch: Sammy Winward
Rizla: David Judge
Sally: Sandra Yin-Mai
Prison Officer Carol: Emma Bispham
Radiographer: Nicola Lawrence
DC Gibbons: Daniel Jillings
Taxi Driver: Joe Simpson
Prisoner: Jade Clarke
Detective Sergeant: Darren Whitfield
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.