Monday, November 26, 2007

Worse than The Witch

Replacing Survivors 'The Witch' as the single worst episode of television in an otherwise reasonable series, may I present 'The Darkness of Light' from season 2 of the Robson Green/Hermione Norris vehicle, Wire in the Blood.

Season 1 of this sub-Cracker police profiler drama was competently written and enlivened by both the plausible degree of sexual tension between the two leads and the interplay between Green and one of his patients, a convicted serial killer of children.

Season 2 starts in much the same vein, with an excellent first episode culminating in the death of the child killer patient and a ramping up of the attraction felt by Green and Norris for one another.

The second episode, 'The Darkness of Light', however, jumps off the deep end in an entirely unexpected manner. Where up until now the most unlikely thing in the series was the plethora of serial killers in such a small industrial town, now priests cause fires by the power of Exorcist-like mutterings and the glittering sword of Joan of Arc descends from the roof of a church into the hands of her nominated heretic-killing successor.

It's hand-waved away at the end as the imaginings of an insane woman, but the entire episode is shot in such a way that that reading simply isn't possible. At one point two supernatural occurrences - a priest murmuring in Latin to start a fire and the fire itself starting without human intervention - take place in two separate geographical locations, at least one of which couldn't have taken place inside the insane woman's head, for instance. It's an attempt to have a bit of the laughably bad afterlife cake and eat it too, which backfires badly and leaves all concerned looking foolish.

What makes things even worse for the viewer is that all of this supernatural malarkey serves to highlight the basically random nature of each investigation led by Norris' DI Jordan and Green's Doctor Tony Hill. Progress in each case is primarily due to Hill writing words like 'BLOOD' and 'DEATH' on a white board then staring at it for half an episode, prior to leaping up with some implausible but terrifyingly accurate conclusion. It's all totally arbitrary but until this is cast into the harsh light of a truly ridiculous piece of writing like 'The Darkness of Light' it's easily ignored as the breakneck pace carries the viewer along.

We'll probably stick with Wire in the Blood for the next episode in the hope that 'The Darkness of Light' was an aberration, but much more of this kind of nonsense and it'll be getting dumped alongside virtually every other ITV drama since...well, Cracker I suppose.

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