fri 19/04/2019

Shetland, Series 5, BBC One review - uneven start to new season | reviews, news & interviews

Shetland, Series 5, BBC One review - uneven start to new season

Shetland, Series 5, BBC One review - uneven start to new season

Dismembered bodies, drugs and sex-trafficking... in Shetland?

Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez, Catherine Walker as Alice Brooks

And so back to the windswept landscapes of the Shetland archipelago, where stoical DI Jimmy Perez is still keeping the bad guys at bay while continuing to cope with life as an ageing widower. You do wonder, though, how he sustains his commitment to the job in a territory offering such a restricted career ladder.

Anyhow, the challenge is keeping screenwriter David Kane on his toes (the original Ann Cleeves novels having been all used up). This opening episode of a new six-part story revolved around the fate of a young Nigerian man called Daniel Ugara (Ayande Bhebe), although it took a while to find out his name since he’d been chopped into pieces which had begun washing up on the local beaches (pictured below). An arm here, a head there… it seemed like somebody had been trying to dissolve the body with lye, too.This cartel-style slaughter seemed a bit extreme for a remote maritime community with a population of 23,000, but it didn’t take too much poking about by Jimmy and his dependable colleague DS “Tosh” McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell) to dislodge possible clues. But perhaps the discovery of numerous barrels of lye at Carla Hayes’s decrepit and sinister CH scrap metal yard, where the late Daniel had come looking for an unknown girl, was a little too serendipitous. In addition, the sneering hostility of Prentice Hayes (Owen Whitelaw) was so ostentatious that one had to conclude that this had to be misdirection, leading Jimmy and us off on a wild goose chase.

However, pieces of a larger jigsaw began to drop into place. Traces of cocaine in the bag containing Daniel’s head, plus Daniel’s apparent interest in Calum Dunwoody’s boat, prompted suspicions that some sort of drug-smuggling racket might be in the offing. Dunwoody was known to have cashflow problems, so there was a handy motive. And why had Daniel visited Gavin Laird’s fish processing plant? And why was Mr Laird touchy and defensive when questioned? Perhaps Daniel had been trying to lure him into a conspiracy to manufacture Captain Birdseye boil-in-the-bag cocaine fishcakes, for example.

But while all this driving around on remote back roads prising reluctant answers out of sullen potential witnesses helps lend Shetland its air of salt-caked peatiness, it has its limitations, so the interludes where we got to look behind the scenes into Perez’s private life were more than usually welcome. Douglas Henshall’s performance as Perez is the heartbeat of the show, projecting a dishevelled and slightly vulnerable warmth even while he’s putting the skids under his team of coppers. As usual, he’s having to sweep up after his buddy Duncan (Mark Bonnar, pictured above), whose latest marital upheaval has prompted him to lug his stuff over to Perez’s place for an indefinite stay. Alice Brooks (Catherine Walker) is worried that the solitary Jimmy is turning into “a Shetland equivalent of Miss Havisham”, so she brought him a copy of 100 Years of Solitude to keep him company.

Even so, this opener was threatening to turn into a damp squib, until events put on a sudden spurt of acceleration in the closing minutes. It seems Shetland may be only a stepping stone in this particular bigger picture, and Daniel’s fatal visit was linked to a people-trafficking operation, though the notion that trafficking gangs could operate unobserved in such a tiny and inaccessible community located somewhere between Scotland and the Faroe Islands tests the credulity a little. The explanation had better be good.

This cartel-style slaughter seemed a bit extreme for a remote maritime community with a population of 23,000

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Comments

And why was Dan the man, on a mission to Shetland in order to rescue his sister from the clutches of evil baddies, wearing his best suit, tie, and shiny shoes.

Another British show ruined by it's rush to signal diversity and make snide political comments about Europe's rightward drift. The comically portrayed white supremacists with American Confederate flags plastered everywhere were particularly inane. Just a ham fisted script all around.

What has the BBC done to Shetland, it is awful. I enjoyed the past series and looked forward to the current offering but it has lurched about from bad to worse. I am on the verge of giving up.

Douglas Henshall is as good as ever but so far this latest series seems to have lost the 'magic' and the plausible realism of the original Ann Cleeves stories.

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