Prime viewing a queasy experience

LINDA BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 05/11/2012
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BODY OF WORK: Emelia Fox in Silent Witness. We know by the music to expect something classy.

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Prime wants you to come over all queasy on a Saturday evening.

Months of corpse-strewn leafy lanes have done little to prepare the viewer for yet another series of Silent Witness. Murders are old hat now, but slitting open bodies on an operating table, manhandling livers and hearts as if they're about to be sold by the kilo, now that is guaranteed to have eyes squeezed shut.

We know by the music to expect something classy. Although modern, it's classical, which implies brains have been involved in the making of this drama. The same can be said for the filming. I paused to wonder at one scene, which had cleft-chinned Dr Harry Cunningham (Tom Ward) walking beside the is-she-isn't-she-a-murderer Rebecca (Lucy Cohu). My goodness Cohu is the spitting image of Nigella.

Anyway, his scarf – a sort of reddish, tweedy, stripey one, knotted back through itself in the way we all learned how to do a few winters back, was the perfect match for her artlessly arty red one. I went off them when they had a standing-up kiss against a gritty grey wall, the camera leaving them only as they slid (painfully) to the ground.

We also know from the dialogue that these are educated types. The viewer is left totally impressed at how they manage to come straight back with ironic one-liners, when we all know that the best one-liners happen in one's head hours after they should have been said.

And what's more we're being educated. Not only because we literally know what foie gras looks like when partially digested, but also because we're given erudite facts: "Not everyone can smell cyanide. Only half the population. It's genetically inherited." And even though, thanks to Agatha Christie, we all know it smells like burnt almonds, they tell us that, too. Just in case.

Ah, but the programme knows we may be criticising it, we cynical old viewers, so it gets in and mocks itself first. "I'm just trying to show empathy! In my course it said ... " There's worse stuff to watch. But I'm out.

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- The Dominion Post

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