Whilst this is my first review for a while (the reasons for which I shall go for in our next Feature Friday), I still felt myself to be treading upon oddly familiar ground. Fitting into the modern detective drama cannon upon which I recently waxed lyrical, read the full piece here, in the way that it so neatly does, it is no small wonder that The Guilty gave me a distinct sense of déjà vu.
Bearing a remarkable similarity to both Broadchurch and May Day (see reviews here and here) due to its missing child plot, The Guilty opens on a young boy riding his scooter down a pristine, white picket-fenced suburban cul-de-sac through the orange haze of a colour saturation which can only mean that we are witnessing events from The Past. In capitals. Sure enough, we are told that this is May 2008, and are subsequently brought forward to a rainy May 2013. In the present day, the young boy’s mother, played by Katherine Kelly, is launching a new appeal to find her missing son. Meanwhile, workers digging up pipework in the local communal garden, the very same that missing son Callum Reid disappeared from, happen across a wooden casket. Enter female detective Olivia Col-, no, sorry, got confused, I meant Tamsin Greig, who must step outside of her idyllic family life with her own doting husband and young son in Broadch-, oops there I go again, in order to investigate these latest findings.
Naturally, this being May Day, no Broadch-, I mean Top of the Lake, no I’m so sorry, The Guilty, with the clue lying very much in the title – everyone is a suspect. All jokes aside however, at least for now, this show should hopefully have some points of interest in its own right. One of those is Katherine Kelly. The other is Tamsin Greig. Both give strong performances in this opening episode, leaving just enough intrigue for us to want to keep watching. Kelly’s howls of anguish as the distraught, grieving mother should cut down to the soul of even the most hardened of viewers, with Greig appearing both the mother and the detective next door in equal measure with her usual approachable charisma. A special mention too for Ruta Gedmintas as the accidental local temptress, whom I do admit to having a slight bias for having twice seen her knock-out performance in Backbeat at the Duke of York’s Theatre last year. Again, it seems The Guilty fulfills the modern detective drama criteria.
It’s certainly atmospheric, although I think it’s fair to say it doesn’t quite manage to grab your attention by the lapels until the last 15 minutes. With that in mind, as well as the constant comparisons which are doubtless already being made to all its predecessors (take your pick!), The Guilty is going to need a few tricks up its sleeves to keep people watching.
The Guilty is next on this Thursday, 9pm, ITV.