tue 22/09/2020

Prey, ITV | reviews, news & interviews

Prey, ITV

Prey, ITV

Compelling central relationship lifts Manchester crime show from the mundane

MyAnna Buring and Philip Glenister: on the run from an otherwise mediocre show

ITV’s Manchester crime series Prey has, like a Premiership football club bought by a billionaire, returned for a new season with the same name but different faces. But these aren’t the shiny young faces of virtue that populate the footballing aristocracy. Prey focuses on compromised officers of the law: righteous protagonists gone to the bad, who lend the plot intriguing shades of grey that match its moral tone with the weather and scenery.

ITV’s Manchester crime series Prey has, like a Premiership football club bought by a billionaire, returned for a new season with the same name but different faces. But these aren’t the shiny young faces of virtue that populate the footballing aristocracy. Prey focuses on compromised officers of the law: righteous protagonists gone to the bad, who lend the plot intriguing shades of grey that match its moral tone with the weather and scenery.

Last series it was John Simm’s DC Marcus Farrow, implicated in his wife’s murder; this time prison officer David Murdoch (Philip Glenister) became both hunter and hunted when his daughter Lucy (Sammy Winward) was kidnapped. Lucy Murdoch’s safe return was dependent on busting out gangland thief Jules Hope (MyAnna Buring) and bringing her to troubled, dangerous brother Daniel. David Murdoch’s relationship with Jules Hope was an inspired creation, as the gaoler and captive had to contrive a way to trust each other enough to evade the police as they swarmed through the city with dogs and helicopters.

Nathan Stewart-JarrettGlenister and Buring both put in a convincing shift. In his grizzled determination to rescue his daughter, Murdoch balanced the need to work with Jules Hope with the suspicion she might betray both him and his daughter at any moment. As Hope, with her liberty in Murdoch’s hands, Buring gradually revealed both the vulnerability and viciousness that had landed her in the sights of both the law and one of Blackpool’s least sympathetic gambling dynasties.

Once she had confirmed the vicious part of her character by smacking Murdoch around the temple (male characters in episode three taken in by those deep eyes and Scandinavian cheekbones, beware!), he handcuffed her to his side, and their progress around the underbelly of Manchester, holding hands to disguise the handcuffs, was engrossing drama. Fleeing on foot through the backwaters (literally, in one scene, as they swam the ship canal) of the city evoked much more vividly the idea of being preyed upon than the usual circus of blue flashers and rubber smoke. They and the police were hunting for Lucy Murdoch and Daniel Hope, while the police also were hunting for them. For prime-time TV crime, it was subtle and atmospheric.

The role of Geoffrey Boycott’s cricket bat would have given him more to play with

In a way, the main character is still the North West, as wet and gritty as a Christmas outing on Blackpool beach, and the scenery still played its part well. Other promising characters, who had been carefully set up, fell by the wayside. Murdoch’s daughter Lucy, who last week curled her lip with panache at both her recently widowed (but roving-eyed) father and argumentative boyfriend, was sidelined as a kidnap victim, spending the episode with duct tape across her face, zip-tied to the radiator of a drably furnished flat in one of Manchester’s less aspirational postcodes, like the embodiment of Kirstie Allsopp’s living nightmare.  

Elsewhere, it was cliché bingo. Rosie Cavaliero made the best of Susan Reichardt, but the character was a hasty cut ’n paste from the TV-detective catalogue, her script cluttered with token lifestyle issues, which – unlike the convincing scenario of Murdoch and Hope – had no foundation in the drama. Her junior assistant Richard Iddon, a too-cute Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (pictured above), smirked his way through a limp sidekick routine, while Ralph Ineson, as her boss Mike Ward, did his best with a small part seemingly devised by Monty Python’s four Yorkshiremen. The role of Geoffrey Boycott’s cricket bat would have given him more to play with.

Murdoch and Hope’s intriguing moral journey aside, the plotting was effective if relatively unsurprising. As the denouement approaches next week, there’s one scene in which plot lines collide both literally and metaphorically that’s laugh-out-loud absurd. In the meantime, though, in the trudging unease of Glenister and Buring, the best of this was almost philosophical.  

 
In the trudging unease of Glenister and Buring, the best of this was almost philosophical

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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