Traces opens with Emma Hedges’ (Molly Windsor – Cheat) mother having been murdered and she bursts into Professor Sarah Gordon’s (Laura Fraser) office, wanting to share her thoughts on how to solve it…
Then flashback three days and she’s starting a new job as a lab technician, alongside Sarah, and she’s made a horrendous discovery while doing the online training course.
Elsewhere, there’s been a fire in a nightclub where fire doors were chained shut and those who were trapped could not escaped, and since it’s set in Scotland, it’s not long before someone drops in the word ‘murder’ in a very strong Scots accent.
In fact, Molly Windsor’s character is meant to have been born there, but when asked how she lost the accent, the explanation comes that she just ‘moved away’. Hmm… but that said, Ms Windsor was born in Nottingham, yet her accent sounds slightly Northern.
There’s supposedly some mystery about whatever her Dad, Drew (John Gordon Sinclair – Gregory’s Girl) is up to, but nothing I found in any way interesting. Add to that, while I know the first episode of any drama tries to introduce all the different characters into the mix, Traces feels like it’s throwing in way too many. In addition to her friend Trina (Morayo Akandé), there’s Trina’s ill mother, Izzy (Eastenders‘ Laurie Brett), her aunt, Julie (Neve McIntosh), uncle Jimmy (Phil McKee), and various people with whom she works.
So many dull tropes being used, and when it comes to whoever bumped off Emma’s mother, I couldn’t give two hoots. It speaks volumes that so little has been made in 2020 due to the pandemic, which is why BBC1 are kicking off 2021 with a primetime drama that was shown on Alibi in December 2019.
Oh, and it’s also using a cinema-style 2.39:1 widescreen ratio for absolutely no reason. It’s a TV drama. Just stick with a traditional 16:9 ratio, FFS!
Finally, apparently this series was “Based on an idea” by author Val McDermid (who also pops up in one scene in the online training video). Is that all it takes – an IDEA?!
Traces begins on Monday January 4th on BBC1 at 9pm. The series is already available to buy on DVD, having been released in January 2020.
After broadcast, each episode will be on the BBC iPlayer.
Episode 1 Score: 0/10
Series Director: Mary Nighy, Rebecca Gatward
Writer: Amelia Bullmore
Producers: Juliet Charlesworth
Based on an idea(?) by Val McDermid
Music: Jack Halama
Emma Hedges: Molly Windsor
Professor Sarah Gordon: Laura Fraser
Professor Kathy Torrence: Jennifer Spence
DI Neil McKinven: Michael Nardone
Daniel: Martin Compston
Drew Cubbin: John Gordon Sinclair
Trina: Morayo Akandé
Marie Monroe: Carly Anderson
Izzy Alessi: Laurie Brett
Janine Muir: Andrea Hart
Louise Chiu Jones: Anna Leong Brophy
Julie Hedges: Neve McIntosh
Pia Salvador: Joana Borja
Jimmy Levin: Phil McKee
Daniel’s Dad: Vincent Regan
Procurator Fiscal John Harvey: Jack Tarlton
Patrick: Duncan Pow
MOOC News Presenter: Val McDermid
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.