Plot thins when it should thicken in cop series

Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014
Case Sensitive

Case closed: Darren Boyd and Olivia Williams in the detective drama Case Sensitive.

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It's some consolation that before its producers cancelled the enjoyable Case Sensitive (Prime, Monday) its two emotionally backward detective heroes made it into the scratcher.

Shame though it is to lose two of the most original police characters in a slew of samey workaholic/alcoholic/opera-loving/philandering television detectives, it has to be admitted that this series' stories just weren't original enough.

What works in a novel can't always translate to TV, even given the best of cast and script, as this was. As a study of sexual jealousy, this telemovie of the book The Other Half Lives was compelling. As a thriller, it was all too quickly resolved.

Sophie Hannah's elaborate psychological thrillers have had to be simplified massively for the two screen adaptations so far, and alas, what's left comes off just a little too routine - specially given the ferocious competition in TV suspense drama these days.

Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd have been spot-on as Charlie and Simon.Simon is a veritable emotional shut-in, and it's a tribute to this production that the fact that he gets to do little but stand around looming, glowering, looking vacant and quite unnecessarily tall, in no way detracts from proceedings.

Charlie, his superior, who fancies him to bits but is far too spikey, English and professional to say so, nevertheless finds her feelings erupting inappropriately when a pretty young constable keeps flirting with him. Her dressings-down of ''Little Miss Sunshine'' are highly entertaining.

Less so, in the end, is the mystery: who killed a school teacher's recently estranged husband, and what is the big secret her angel-faced new boyfriend is protecting with such Byronic hauntedness?

The tension builds up nicely, as first Charlie suspects the teacher, and then it turns out the boyfriend has confessed to having killed someone in the past. But from the moment the storyline introduced the boyfriend's strangely-never-mentioned step-sister, it was all too obvious where things were headed.

She was just too nicey-pie to be true, and the plot thins when it should be thickening. Inevitably, an eventual search of her home disclosed the oh-so-hackneyed secret obsessional pinboard of photos and clippings of the boyfriend. Are there any TV serial killers who don't keep secret obsessional pinboards?

Sadly there's much to miss about this series, including gloriously sleazy co-worker DC Sellers (Ralph Ineson) and the infuriating blowhard chief inspector who never ceases to rub Charlie up the wrong way - not that there's necessarily always a right way with this entertainingly prickly character.

Still, a further consolation for those who enjoyed Case Sensitive is that heretical option: reading the much-better books.

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- The Dominion Post

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