The Replacement is a new three-parter which feels very much ‘The Hand That Rocks The Office‘ mixed with other ‘daft shocks’-style ’90s thrillers such as Pacific Heights and Single White Female, with up-and-comer Paula (Line of Duty’s Vicky Mcguire) taking over from Ellen (The A Word‘s Morven Christie), who’s taking time off to drop a sprog… I mean, give birth to a wonderful new child.
Just before that, however, Ellen has secured a £12.2m contract for her architect company, and everyone says she’s irreplaceable… until the titular replacement shows her face, brown-nosing aplenty, even offering to do a day a week in the office unpaid and conniving her way into getting some plans relating to a client before she even starts the job… and making it worse, she even goes behind her back meets the client! A lot of this is done off-screen so Ellen only finds out after the events take place, leading to her nose being pushed more out of joint than a heavyweight boxer.
The drama doesn’t go into detail about the exact way the business works, but they’re architects. It gives you enough info to get to grips with the basics without taxing the average viewer, but it’s very undemanding stuff with Ellen slowly going out of her mind and Paula always creeping up on her when she least expects it.
Everything went predictable as clockwork in this drama as the new girl treads softly, softly, getting stuck in, but it’s not in the least bit surprising if you’ve watched even one psychological thriller from the ’90s. This is until the closing act which I won’t reveal, but for me, that drew me in a bit to find out what happens in the remainder of it. All I’ll say is that it’s something I wasn’t expecting as I don’t think too far ahead with programmes like this, while others may have guessed it instantly, but just check your brain at the door before watching this.
Additional: I have now seen episode 2, and there is more meat on its bones, but not as much as I was hoping for. Perhaps episode 3 will make it more worth my time spent watching it?
Additional Additional: I have now also seen episode 3, and thought it was just dire – even moreso than the first episode – falling through a skylight of its own making(!), reusing so many tropes that many films have gone before. And the background music which occasionally featured was almost exactly the same as the that in Channel 4’s Four Rooms!
Even worse, there’s a scene in the finale which is a carbon copy of one in a very famous foreign film. I didn’t want to name it until the episode had been broadcast (for obvious reasons) but had this one not been the last episode, I would’ve stopped watching there and then! How on Earth did the first episode get such plaudits?! As for that film, it’s…
The Replacement continues next Tuesday on BBC1 at 9pm, and is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. Click on the top image for the full-size version.
You can also watch the first episode on BBC iPlayer until March 30th.
Episode 1 Score: 2/10
Episode 2 Score: 4/10
Episode 3 Score: 0/10
Director: Joe Ahearne
Writer: Joe Ahearne
Ellen: Morven Christie
Paula: Vicky McClure
Ian: Richard Rankin
Kay: Neve McIntosh
David: Dougray Scott
Rianne: Sarah MacRae
Kieran: Navin Chowdhry
Beth: Siobhan Redmond
Lucy: Kim Allan
Vernon: Gilly Gilchrist
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.