TV review: Tim Roth's top form in Tin Star

Tim Roth in the new British import Tin Star.

Tim Roth in the new British import Tin Star.

Tim Roth has his accent back.

Since Roth, now 56, abandoned Britain for Los Angeles in the late 1980s, in part because he was sickened by the world of Margaret Thatcher, he has mostly had to fit in with the locals. 

But in what's a vague parallel to his own life, old Mr Orange from Reservoir Dogs finally gets to speak in his own London drawl again in Three's new drama Tin Star (Mondays, 8.30pm) in which Roth plays transplanted British cop Jim Worth, chasing a quieter life as the sheriff of a remote Canadian outpost called Little Big Bear. 

Amused and cranky: Tim Roth.
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Amused and cranky: Tim Roth.

It's clear from the off that he's enjoying having his own voice back because this is Roth in terrific form - he's funny, foul-mouthed, slouching his way across screen, alternately cranky and amused. His relationship to his teenage daughter (Abigail Lawrie) is well observed and rings very true.

Clearly, Roth is clearly absolutely integral to Tin Star's success or otherwise, but it doesn't feel like a spoiler to say that the opening scene appears to show him being shot in the head by a masked gunman, given all this occurs even before the opening credits roll.

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Then we're thrown back in a time a year, to Roth deciding to uproot his family from Britain and move to the Canadian backwoods for a quieter life and to escape an otherwise unspecified range of problems which definitely, we will learn, includes alcoholism.

So first up we get those big, wide cinematic shots of ice-capped peaks and pine forests that look direct from an Alberta Tourism Board advertisement and may make you want to look up Canadian immigration rules. Life is so suitably dull that Jim contemplates taking up fishing. 

But within ten minutes, there's a whole lot of plot gone sailing by, and Jim finds himself at odds with a lot of the locals and a ruthless sand-mining multi-national who want to roll into town. Then we get the suspicious death of one of Jim's few allies in town, and we discover someone is out to get the new sheriff and his family. As Anchorman's Ron Burgundy was wont to say, that escalated quickly.

There's a sense of a definite desire to get all the set up done super quick, the plot laid out and eyeballs captured in those first 48 minutes of airtime. 

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With nine episodes left of the season (it has already been renewed for a second), it will be interesting to see which direction writer Rowan Joffe (who wrote the movie 28 Days Later) takes things. 

There's some dramatic music, sweeping camera work and intense looks that suggest a dark, brooding drama is on the cards. But at the same time, the speed of the action and the number of bullets fired already suggests it could equally lurch off into a blood-fuelled old-style western.

There's enough there, anyway, to drag viewers back in for a second round.

And a hat tip to Three, who usually get a thoroughly good and often deserved kicking in this parish for their slavish devotion to reality television, for spotting, buying and quickly airing what is shaping up to be a very decent drama right in the middle of primetime. 

Tin Star, Monday, Three.

 - Your Weekend

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