wed 19/06/2024

Silent Witness, BBC One/ Once Upon a Time, Channel 5/ The Voice, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Silent Witness, BBC One/ Once Upon a Time, Channel 5/ The Voice, BBC One

Silent Witness, BBC One/ Once Upon a Time, Channel 5/ The Voice, BBC One

Oh great, another serial killer on the loose

Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) and Dr Harry Cunningham (Tom Ward) sift the evidence in Silent Witness

It must have been a toss-up for the BBC whether to scrap Waking the Dead or Silent Witness, but evidently the latter won the race against extinction by a putrefying nose, probably attached to a hideously-charred corpse which may or may not have been raped but had been stabbed 47 times and bludgeoned with a... Funnily enough there was one a bit like that in this first episode of Series 15, along with an asphyxiated child and a man killed by knife and stun-gun.

It's hard to fathom how murder most graphic and the disgusting perversions of serial killers have become such a staple of middle-brow TV viewing. The kids have the CBeebies, and we lucky adults have an endless list of freaks who go round slaughtering people with guns, knives and axes, usually after prolonged bouts of torture and ghastly sexual brutality.

In the current Silent Witness story (which concludes on Monday night), the murderous ghoul has been nicknamed The Wraith by the police. The cops have satisfied themselves that The Wraith is female, and recruits junkies and low-lifes to carry out her murders for her while she stands and watches. For a dozen years, the gruff and obsessive Detective Super Tom Byrne (a sandpapery Vincent Regan) has been piecing together Wraith-evoking clues from a variety of disparate killings, which would seem unconnected were it not for common DNA traces.

Writer Ed Whitmore had wrapped the Wraith theme in layers of camouflage, in particular a conflict between the police and the forensics people over the failed prosecution of a terrorist. Pathologist Lizzie Fraser has committed suicide, leaving her friend Prof Leo Dalton (William Gaminara) angry and embittered. Meanwhile Dr Nikki Alexander's (Emilia Fox) father recently died, as did DS Byrne's wife. I suppose this stuff is intended to make us feel empathy with the protagonists, but even though the "emotional" scenes are played out with po-faced woefulness and accompanied by solemn music, it's like jabbing botox into a parade of corpses. The characters in Silent Witness are even less lifelike than the spatchcocked specimens on their laboratory table.

The inhabitants of Once Upon a Time (pictured right) are none too plausible either, though at least they have fewer pretensions about their relationship with actualité. Evidently fairytales are the new goldrush, with Julia Roberts starring in the Snow White retread Mirror Mirror and NBC wheeling out Grimm. Once Upon... is a new US import from Disney, and posits the notion that a group of fairytale characters have stepped out of storybookland and taken up modern-day residence in the little town of Storybrooke, Maine. So, we had a quick recap of the Snow White story, embellished with wedding-cake castles and the Seven Dwarves, in which Snow White had just had a baby daughter with Prince Charming when their castle was overwhelmed by the Evil Queen and her army of sinister black knights. Luckily the baby was bunded into a magic wardrobe, whence she has emerged as Emma Swan, bail bondswoman.


Things may change, but this first episode barely survived the ridiculous leaps between fairyland and latterday small town USA. There are glimmers of hope in the fact that Emma Swan is likeably played by Jennifer Morrison, previously Dr Cameron in House, while Robert Carlyle is both Rumpelstiltskin and Mr Gold. Lana Parrilla is the Evil Queen when she's not doubling up as Regina Mills, the mayor of Storybrooke. But for now my disbelief remains unsuspended.

All this debate about whether The Voice UK (pictured left) is better than Britain's Got Talent is like arguing about whether migraine is better than gout, but The Voice's recycling of pop used-to-be's and reality show rejects will surely come back to bite it. On Saturday we had Billy Idol knock-off Vince Kidd, who was a 2007 X Factor contestant with Futureproof, Deniece Pearson trying to bounce back from her past efforts with Eighties combo Five Star (the Romford Jackson Five), and another X Factor reject in Barbara Bryceland. Last week's show featured Sean Conlon from boy band 5ive, a defunct Simon Cowell project. And surely contestants shouldn't be allowed to sing songs written by the judges, in a blatant effort to manipulate the voting? On top of all that, is plainly the only judge who has any idea what he's talking about.

The 'emotional' scenes are played out with po-faced woefulness, but it's like jabbing botox into a parade of corpses

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So who was the woman who stun gunned the killer? And was in the police car when the officer was shot?

Anyone know the track and name of the artist of the song played towards the end of part 2 on 2nd April, 2012. I couldn't catch it on the credits.

Song "Re Stacks" by Bon Iver.

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