Silent Witness: 17.05/06 - In A Lonely Place

Well hello Silent Witness. It’s nice to finally see something resembling life in the old show. In this, the third of five two parters, the team move out of the comfort of the Lyall Centre and into the wild woods of Scotland. I don’t think anyone could have known that the change of scenery would have brought such a dramatic improvement in the show. Not only is there a killer on the loose (when isn’t there?) but a bona fide serial killer.

This week the writers have jettisoned new head boy Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern), and kept Clarissa Mullery (Liz Carr) to a minimum, and this streamlining of the central characters puts the focus squarely on Jack Hodgson and Nikki Alexander, while also allowing a decent selection of local characters to contribute. Now whilst the central murders (all women, crimes of a sexual nature, buried in the forest, etc) aren’t in any way original, the change of scenery and dynamic between the characters lifts this head and shoulders above the output so far. That and some decent acting from Emilia Fox, David Caves, and the hardest working Scotsmen on telly, Gary Lewis, who introduced a harder edge that we’re used to. Sadly, Lewis’ character (caricature?) is an addition to that TV staple, the hard drinking, aggressive, physical Scottish policeman.

This time round the team delve into a bit of psychological profiling as well as their day jobs as forensic crime scene investigators, and their moonlighting as coppers on the beat.
The great pity is that the second hour can’t quite keep up with the first, and doesn’t really get going until the final twenty minutes. Still, props to the writers, for the first times in a while they keep you guessing about the identity of the murderer until reasonably near to the end. There’s no real character development within the show, and the six episodes so far this season have been a microcosm of that, despite an attempt to give Jack a bit more depth. Formulaic and lazily plotted it might be but there’s no doubt that this series is improving each week, from the truly terrible opening story; and that’s no mean feat for a seventeen year old show.

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