wed 24/07/2024

The Body Farm, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

The Body Farm, BBC One

The Body Farm, BBC One

Waking the Dead spin-off keeps it frothy. The jury's out

Eve is dead, long like Eve: Tara Fitzgerald as 'The Body Farm''s Dr Eve Lockhart

One didn’t keep a detailed log on the state of decomposition of each and every corpse in all umpteen series of Waking the Dead. Being cold cases, they were none of them too presentable. But did any make quite such a mess as ep one of The Body Farm, which took care to begin last night with a bang? To be more forensic, an explosion distributed blood and gristle evenly around a high-rise flat, leaving not much in the way of too too solid flesh.

Or as Dr Eve Lockhart put it, “a carpet of decomposing carrion covering walls, floor and ceiling”. It looked as if the sloppier sort of decorators had been in. 

Waking the Dead finally heard the tolling of the bell earlier this year, sensibly calling time long before its principals started to resemble in any way the cadavers whose long-unsolved murders it was their job to solve. Trevor Eve’s production company being reluctant to let the whole brand be laid to rest, they’ve alighted on the character of forensic pathologist Dr Lockhart to carry on exhuming.

Of course not every spin-off works. There’s Frasier and then there’s Joey. There’s Ashes to Ashes and, for a millisecond or two back there, Baywatch Nights. The Body Farm has carefully attempted to keep discrepancies to a minimum, on the principle that you don’t frighten the horses. Or if you do, you frighten them the way you know they like to be frightened. Thus we have moved smoothly to Dr Lockhart’s place of work, which we already know well, a privately run forensics establishment out in the rolling hills of Somewhereshire where a classically implausible medley of main characters slice up corpses for a living. (We saw one in an overhead shot, parked on a slab. Whoever got that part might want to find a new agent. All you could see was his blanched arse.)

BodyFarmThe quartet of maverick scientists is led by Tara Fitzgerald who, picking up a stray mandible off the floor of the crime scene, couldn’t hide her glee at the prospect of getting back to telling the police how to do their job. In this case Plod’s sole rep is Keith Allen. If they’ve gone for a tonal paradigm shift from Waking the Dead to this, it’s in the characterisation of the police inspector not as scowling workaholic senior sort of sex god but as a bit of a berk. That’ll be Trevor Eve’s doing, one very much suspects.

Indeed, does one detect a general migration towards Gothic comedy drama? The crime scene was on the eighth floor in this first case, the lift wasn’t working, and Fitzgerald arrived at the top like a jumping jelly bean. The script practically tells you it’s in it for laughs. Allen’s bobby rang Dr Lockhart the morning after the exploded bodies were found. “Too early.” she said. “I’m not on a meter yet.” “Very funny,” he advised. Not that funny actually.

However hard the unfolding story tried to trade in lugubriousness with a tale of druggy top-floor raves, a pregnant girl slicing her wrists in the bath, exploding corpses and flesh flies, it’s hard to ignore the skippiness, the perkiness, the sheer absence of Grand Guignol. Fitzgerald dutifully smokes, but that’s about as close to a traditional maverick quirk she strays for the moment. Perhaps she’ll develop the ungovernable hots for her new colleague Mike (Mark Bazeley) and one night jump him in the vicinity of the corpse trolley. Oh no, they did that in Lip Service

Anyway, those who like rapid-fire science talk on hands-free Bluetooth devices can sign up for six episodes. Not being a lab type, my favourite line came when a parent of a murder victim needed to supply a DNA sample. A burly man stepped forward, only to be spurned by his wife on the grounds that he wasn’t the natural dad. “What’s that got to do with it?” he scowled.

However hard the unfolding story tried to trade in lugubriousness, it’s hard to ignore the absence of Grand Guignol

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Poor directing, acting and camera work and they even managed to make Tara look twenty years older than she actually is. Add to that an implausible script and we have a very disappointing product. No reasons to stay in and watch here.

Real life may well present better drama soon. With coming closure of what was an independent UK Forensic Science Service, English & Welsh Police now buying private forensic services in so able, if they wished maybe, to put pressure on these private companies to give them result outcomes that they want? Waking the Dead had to go because the country's hugely successful cold case evidence store is currently on the verge of being broken up and shut.

It was spectacularly, buttock-clenchingly, embarassingly awful - dreadful in all respects - presumably written by a 7 year old who shook up a bag of cliches and then threw them on the floor - and acted woodenly throughout - crummy gruyere plot, badly edited, heavy handed use of "backing track", poor camera work - seldom seen anything quite so pathetic - ended up watching it in sheer disbelief!

I misread the review so that the sequel to Baywatch was Baywatch Nights: The Body Farm. That I would have watched. Danger of exploding saline implants, of course...

An embarrassingly pathetic and very disappointing waste of time. ["Gruyere plot "- very good!] And a bomb which reduced the victim to sludge, but didn't break the window?

Exactly...such errors and wasted moments. Just shouldn't happen in 2011; CGI would probably have been cheaper and more convincing. For the first 15 minutes I thought it was a black comedy. Superb cast, great story but lousy, lousy production.

Does anyone know what that track is that was used as background to the party scene?

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