The Watchman centres around security guard Carl Freeman (Stephen Graham – Orthodox), a man who spends all his nights alone in a darkened room, and who sees all but can only phone the police if he spots something dodgy on the streets, rather than being able to take action himself.
The premise is a basic one. The job is the ultimate in people-watching, but as this is a one-off drama, there’s limited scope in the number of scenarios brought into the proceedings. We see him trying to deal with someone wanting to jump from a roof, when he clearly hasn’t been briefed by his employer on what to do in that situation, plus drug dealers and him facing the frustration of police inaction as they’re too short-staffed to track down the ne’er-do-wells.
His use of some of the CCTV initially seems a bit weird, but as the drama builds, the answers come clear and, while not excusing his actions, it certainly explains them.
Watching the world go by, Carl talks about wanting to “do the right thing” as he can see everything going on – despite the obstruction from those in authority, yet there’s also moral dilemmas involved.
However, I soon realised, as he obviously had to nip out from time to time to grab a coffee or (unshown) to perform his ablutions, you *can’t* see everything, and you can’t be responsible for everyone.
Not to be confused with Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, The Watchman is gripping for the most part, but a key decision made by Carl is something that just wouldn’t happen in real life, and Lee would clearly go against it as it felt too stupid, and the ending takes a disappointing turn and felt like a rip off of a classic British film (which you’ll know when you see what happens).
However, Stephen Graham (above-right) is on top form, and it’s good to see Kieran O’Brien (Cracker) back in a prime-time drama. You rarely see him on the tellybox these days, and it’d be good to see him back more often.
The Watchman isn’t yet available to pre-order Blu-ray or DVD, but can be seen on All 4. Also, click on the top image for the full-size version.
Director: Dave Nath
Producer: Kate Cook
Writer: Dave Nath
Music: John Opstad
Carl Freeman: Stephen Graham
Lee Simpson: Kieran O’Brien
Kelly: Imogen King
Sandy: Sian Breckin
Jake: Rowan Clark
Boy on bike: Xavien Russell
Car park jumper: Hussina Raja
Hoodie 1: George Somner
Hoodie 2: Corey Trevor
Hoodie 3: Kwame Reed
Female Police Op 1: Hannah Chalmers
Male Police Op 2: Bailey Patrick
Sandy’s new man: Rick Reynolds
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.