Sunday, 30 December 2007

TV Picks of 2007 - 1 - Five Days

In the second of my series of blogs looking back to 2007, the first of my TV picks of the year is the compelling thriller which started the year off…

Five Days is the only British Drama that I have picked this year. While most of the other dramas shown on television, and this is especially true of the big flagship dramas shown by the BBC/ITV and Channel 4, have had the air of being done before. This drama, shown at the start of the year & repeated on BBC4 in April, took the whodunit/thriller genre and added elements that the writers don’t normally think of.

Essentially “Five Days” tells the story of the disappearance of a mother, Leanne & her children from the hard shoulder of a busy motorway (they are on their way to see Leanne’s Grandfather), with each episode set on a specific day. The first episode is set on day 1 (the day Leanne and her children go missing), the second is set on day 3, the third is set on day 28, the fourth is set on day 33 and the fifth is set on day 79.

This was an unusual way of telling the story, as was the decision to make the victims family a key part of the story. Normally in thrillers, the victims families are in a way the forgotten story, except if they have something to do with the crime. Here, they were centre stage, as the effects of the media storm around them were explored in detail.

David Oyelowo’s casting as Matt, Leanne’s partner, was good. His performance was excellent as Matt’s world crashed around him, his partner was missing while the press began to hound him over her disappearance in thinly veiled racist tones. Matt’s relationship with Leanne’s parents also was a key part of the story, with hints that Matt was tolerated but not really approved of. The appearance of Daf, the father of Leanne’s oldest child, Tanya (who pulled out of the fateful trip) casts new light on this relationship.

Another part of this drama is the appearance of media officers, and more crucial to the plot, the family liaison officer, who is the link to the two intertwining plots regarding the police investigation and the family reaction to what has happened. The investigating officers were excellently played by Hugh Bonneville & Janet McTeer, the characters again differed from bog standard got to have a character quirk normal TV detectives in that they just got on with the job in hand. McTeer’s character actually had shades of Jane Tennison running through her, especially during her retirement party in episode 5.

Overall, this is one of the most realistic dramas of this year. There are several twists and turns, with the ramifications and reactions of each event explored. To me, the final twist is one that did not become apparent until a minute or so before the final twist was revealed. A gripping drama, with an inventive narrative, “Five Days” is certainly an excellent drama.

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