The Interceptor is a new drama/thriller series which was described on BBC Breakfast as something we’ve never ever seen before… yet from the clips it looked like EVERYTHING we’ve seen before. Not that that’s always a bad thing, since the enjoyment value is what matters, but we can always tell when a TV presenter is pulling the wool over our eyes.
The trailers, and only some of the clips shown, were presented in a 2.35:1 cinematic-style ratio, so since it’s rare to find a TV series shot in that format, one assumes, like the short-lived Rufus Sewell three-part drama Zen, from 2011, and the more recent and far more successful The Musketeers, if the trailers are in 2.35:1, it’s just for show and the series itself will be in 16:9 as usual.
So I was rather surprised to find that the entire programme has been shot in that ratio. I’m not opposed to it for a TV series, but it does look a bit odd sometimes. I can see they’re going for that cinema-style apperance, but in general I’d stick to films for that ratio. That said, director Farren Blackburn certainly gives good thought into the composure of the visuals, so it’s not just a case of “film in 16:9 and then stick some black bars over them to look cool.”
It’s not the first full-length UK series to be shot that way, though. Russell T Davies’ self-indulgent Cucumber appeared on Channel 4 earlier this year in that format, along with, obviously, Banana. While the former didn’t work for me, my interest was piqued with the latter, so I may catch up with that. It was just annoying that, while Cucumber was on their flagship channel, Banana was relegated to E4, so if you’re just watching on Freeview, then you won’t get that one in HD. And the less said about Tofu the better.
Other examples of televisual entertainment shown this way including the one-off 2011 Damien Lewis drama Stolen, and the more recent mini-series, The Casual Vacancy, based on the novel by JK Rowling. And, of course, there’s Nordic Noir examples in Borgen and 1864, both wonderful series.
(click on it for the full-size image)
Anyhoo, The Interceptor began wit the clever misdirection when we were led to assume that a man gunned down was the protagonist’s father, but in fact it was his Dad who did the deed!
In the present day, the first baddie we were introduced to, along with the first of the occasional one-liners, was drug dealer De Carlo (Benidorm‘s Hugh Sachs), arrested with the witty banter of Ash (O-T Fagbenle, from HBO’s Looking, and also the voice of ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham in the engaging Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag) and Tommy (Robert Lonsdale) pretending to read his horoscope, which says that today is a good day to tie up all loose ends because he’s about to be arrested by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
Paul Kaye pops up – as he does with everything these days from Inside No.9 to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – as baddie Jago, tortures and kills a man who was going to be picking up a package from De Carlo. Now, here comes the science bit. Since De Carlo and the package collector didn’t know each other visually anyway, it means the cops can stand in for De Carlo and Kaye will be the collector. Plot hole filled!
There’s a rather cool car chase, where Tommy has had to drive Jago, and Ash looks mean and moody, but he is a typical maverick character. Jago hurt Tommy, putting him in hospital after the car crashes, so Ash decides to avenge his injuries, despite being warned off by his bosses and that he should play it by the book.
The cast is rounded out with Lee Boardman as Xavier, who’s a step in the bad guy chain above De Carlo, and working with him is Docker, played by Gary Beadle, best known for Eastenders and who exited Walford in cab, about to have his brains blown out, but has turned up in a number of Comic Strip Presents episodes over th years, along with 2012’s largely enjoyable Cockneys Vs Zombies.
Oh, and another Eastender, Jo Joyner turned up playing Jo Joyner. As always. Now, just how is Adam??
With Xavier and Docker still at large by the end of the episode, and Trevor Eve coming into the picture at the 59th minute as main baddie Roach (he must’ve spent all the time inbetween cultivating that ridiculous goatee!), this looks to be shaping up reasonably well for a new series, but be sure not to trip over the the clichés on your way through, and watch out for the hammy acting.
Oh, and I say Roach is the main baddie, unless this turns into a series like ‘24‘ where you get a succession of ever-increasingly-bad baddie throughout the series.
And I’m not too familiar with O-T Fagbenle, but is it really necessary to run about while imitating Robert Patrick’s T-1000 in Terminator 2?
I won’t be reviewing every episode of The Interceptor, but will enjoy continuing to watch it and it’s on again each Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1 for eight episodes.
The Interceptor Series 1 is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its August 3rd release date, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Episode 1 Score: 7/10
Director: Farren Blackburn
Producer: Patrick Schweitzer
Writer: Tony Saint
Ash: O-T Fagbenle
Tommy: Robert Lonsdale
Valerie: Lorraine Ashbourne
Xavier: Lee Boardman
Docker: Gary Beadle
Jago: Paul Kaye
De Carlo: Hugh Sachs
Roach: Trevor Eve
Martin: Charlie de Melo
Lorna: Jo Joyner
Kim: Anna Skellern
Cartwright: Ewan Stewart
Young Ash: Delwyn Henry
Charlie: Daniel Adegboyega
Man: Dean Roberts
Sadie: Melissa Johns
Anderson: Adjoa Andoh
Chinese Girl: Emiko Ishii
Hannah: India Ria Amarteifio
Chloe: Rayne Obili
Bernie: Anthony Grundy
Warren: Angus Brown
Mal: Alex Austin
Maurice: Dean Bardini
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.