wed 07/12/2022

Inside Man, BBC One review - strong cast trapped on a sinking ship | reviews, news & interviews

Inside Man, BBC One review - strong cast trapped on a sinking ship

Inside Man, BBC One review - strong cast trapped on a sinking ship

Steven Moffat's continent-jumping mystery can't get its act together

Stanley Tucci as Jefferson Grieff, murderer and criminologist

Screenwriter and showrunner Steven Moffat is renowned for some of his work, especially Sherlock, but other stuff not so much (I direct you towards Dracula or The Time Traveler’s Wife). When the history is written, Inside Man is liable to languish at the dog’s-breakfast end of the Moffat canon.

There used to be a TV cooking show where contestants had to somehow create a meal from a random batch of ingredients they found in the fridge – a pineapple, a pork chop, a crumpet and a jar of mayonnaise, perhaps. Inside Man (BBC One) looked as if it was similarly devised as a kind of brain-teaser. How can you create a drama out of a tormented Home Counties vicar, his teenage son, his maths tutor and a paedophile verger, plus two convicted murderers thousands of miles away on Death Row in an American prison? Well maybe you can’t, since while Inside Man boasted a powerful cast, the twain never met. As the series ran through its four episodes, a convincing denouement grew further and further out of reach as the story gradually sank up to its neck in a quicksand of preposterous melodrama. The supposedly gripping climax took on a life of its own and decided to express itself as farce.

Still, credit where it’s due. Stanley Tucci put in a silkily seductive turn as Jefferson Grieff – despite his clunkily-signposting surname – who had reached a philosophical acceptance that his death sentence was condign punishment for murdering his wife. As a former professor of criminology, he made amends of a sort by analysing cases brought to him by desperate citizens, though the “Death Row detective” notion was a bit too Hannibal Lecter for comfort. There was light relief from his mass-murdering, though very courteous, sidekick Dillon (Atkins Estimond).Inside Man Back in the bucolic English countryside, David Tennant made a decent fist of portraying Harry Watling (sporting the daring catchphrase “I’m a fucking vicar”), but he was tripped up by a storyline about the pervy verger’s memory stick crammed with vile child-abuse pornography. A credibility-stretching cluster of non-sequiturs and misunderstandings ended up with Watling ‘fessing up in a martyred kind of way to being the owner of said memory stick. Inexplicably, this prompted him to throw the delightful and feisty Janice Fife (Dolly Wells, pictured above with Tennant) down a flight of steps and lock her in his basement, where she remained for the rest of the series.

Perhaps in an attempt at mirror-image thematic continuity, determined journalist Beth Davenport (Lydia West) also fell down a flight of stairs in episode four, but it was in vain. If there was a point, it had long since left the building, a fact vividly illustrated by absurd scenes of Watling and his son having tortuous phone conversations while not realising they were on different floors of the vicar’s home. The gratuitous deus ex machina demise of Watling’s wife Mary (a thankless role for Lyndsey Marshal) put the bathetic icing on a very indigestible cake.

For the cherry on top, Mr Grieff had a smug little homily: “There are moments that make murderers of us all… we’re anyone on a bad day.” Yeah, and I’m a fucking vicar.

Comments

Dreadful ending

The acting was good , but the story was totally stupid reminded me of the outlaw’s

the perfect vicar who would not reveal his verger to be a paedophile, but would commit murder.

of course it's preposterous (but knows it), but done so well, with lovely casting and great performances. Strongly recommended .. !

Switched off after he confessed to owning the stick. Too stupid.

I've seen some rubbish in my time but this was in a class of its own: preposterous drivel.

I know we could all watch Stanley Tucci reading the phone book (remember those?...) but this review is, sadly, true... The absurd and far-fetched plot lines (mainly by David Tennant's character), and DT's increasingly fussy acting have made this unwatchable... Shame. At least there's 1 more episode of Bad Sisters..

As soon as we decided it was a comedy that was missing a laughter track, it was much more enjoyable.

I love Moffat's dark comedy writing, and this was a great example. From a twisted take on Holmes and Watson to a magnificent turn by Dolly Wells as the captive who manipulates her captors, and David Tennant's tortured "nice guy" vicar, it was a joy to watch.

Utter pish. Turned off after 35 minutes, could see where the "storyline" (and I use that term loosely) was going - and decided I'd wasted 35 minutes too much already on it, no way I was giving it 4 hours. A vicar that would harbour a pedophile, but is willing to commit murder, and a farcical tedious link to two crime solving death row inmates - stick it all in a blender, and it comes out as diahorrea milkshake. 4 hours of your life you will never get back.

Well, I like it, said Florence, hopefully! Younger daughter has now said she'd like to see it and I'd happily watch all of it again - it kept me enthralled and amused all the way through

The whole plot rested upon the idea that it was impossible for someone on the other side of a basement door to be heard by anyone anywhere else in the house. Enough said.

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