Above Suspicion Set 2

Above Suspicion Set 2 (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Detective Inspector Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly), Detective Chief Superintentent James Langton (Ciarαn Hinds), DCI Mike Lewis (Shaun Dingwall), DS Paul Barolli (Daniel Caltagirone), Joan Faukland (Amanda Lawrence)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 01/03/2011 to 01/05/2011
DVD Date: 02/05/2013

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 138 minutes

Note(s): Screenplay adapted from the novel Deadly Intent (2008) by Lynda La Plante.

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Above Suspicion Set 2

Review: This second set in the made-for-television drama series is a 3-part adaptation of the fourth book in the "Anna Travis" police procedurals by Lynda La Plante, Deadly Intent … a book I have not read, though I have read others in the series. What is so surprising is how poorly these books translate to the small screen. I wasn't a fan of the first two adaptations — released together as Set 1 — but was hoping that maybe by the time this third one was produced things would have improved. They have not.

Probably the biggest single problem with the series is Kelly Reilly as Detective Inspector Anna Travis. I haven't quite figured out if she is wrong for the part, miscast as it were, or is simply a bad actress. I've seen her in bit parts elsewhere, but here she's on the screen a lot. (It is her series, after all.) As a character, she alternates between being incompetent and insubordinate. How she achieved the rank of Detective Inspector boggles the mind. As the actress playing her, Reilly — or maybe the screenwriter or director — cannot seem to figure out how best to portray her character. It's all really rather jarring, and often cringe-worthy.

The plot of the episode is a little thin, but workable. A former cop is murdered while dealing drugs. It turns out no one knew he had recently gotten married to a wealthy socialite, who seems singularly unconcerned that her relatively new husband is dead. As the investigation proceeds, people associated in one way or the other with the new widow are murdered as well. From the viewer perspective, this isn't a whodunit — by the 20 minute mark we know pretty much everything there is to know about the who and why — which is fine since this is marketed as a police procedural. As such, it is structured well and unfolds at a proper pace. All the same, a more linear approach to the present-day story — without the inclusion of the confusing and poorly shot backstory scenes — would have gone a long way towards making the overall storyline more interesting and exciting.

There is a minimalist look to this drama, whether intentional or due to a lack of financial resources, I cannot tell. I'm sure some of the grittiness is supposed to mimic "real life", but the all three episodes have an unfinished, or maybe unpolished, look to them. Imagine the budget dramas from the 1970s and you have an idea what this looks like.

I was disappointed in this adaptation. I realize that the actors are locked into the roles, so it's too much to hope that someone else steps into Anna Travis's shoes for future episodes. But a stronger script and higher production values would go a long way towards compensating for the distraction that is Kelly Reilly's portrayal of the lead series character.


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