TV Review: Waking the Dead Series 5

With the loss of two original cast members, Series 5 of Waking the Dead really does ring the changes

“What do you mean exactly, no present threat?”

I’d completely forgotten that Holly Aird left Waking the Dead at the same time as Claire Goose, although sadly her Frankie not getting an exit scene compared to Mel’s gory departure. So Series 5 had quite the job on its hands in introducing two new key members of the team and  its contrasting approaches for both resulted in mixed feelings for me.

Esther Hall comes in as Dr Felix Gibson, Frankie’s replacement whose arrival predates the start of the series so she’s already fully accepted as a member of the team. By contrast, Félicité Du Jeu’s DC Stella Goodman is scarcely tolerated as Boyd and Spence give her a really rough ride for basically not being Mel. And it’s one way of doing things to be sure but there’s a little dissonance in the way Felix’s presence is so much of a fait accompli that she can give Stella advice rather than comparing notes as a newbie, especially given Felix’s unheralded departure at series’ end.

Storywise, digging into cases from both Boyd’s and Grace’s past is surprisingly effective – I loved the scenes played out from Grace’s first days as a profiler – and Toby Stephens offers one of the show’s greatest performances in the ripped-from-the-headlines ‘Subterraneans’. Adding a third in Spencer’s past for the finale is possibly one too many, especially with the assumption that we now need to put team members in jeopardy every time. Still, a strong series for the show with some powerfully disturbing episodes.

Top guest appearances

  1. Diane Parish does some really interesting work as she subverts expectations (Boyd’s as well as our’s) in ‘Black Run’
  2. As mentioned above, Toby Stephens is sensational as Dr Nick Henderson in ‘Subterraneans’
  3. Even bewigged in an 80s flashback, Tom Ellis is still ridiculously adorable as Grace’s first boss and also lover in ‘Straw Dog’
  4. ‘Undertow’ is full of astonishing work – Cheryl Campbell and Peter Wight as blinkered parents and Sharon Duncan-Brewster as a sparky local journo all impress but a pre-True Blood Stephen Moyer is outstanding as the chilling Steven Hunt
  5. And Mark Lewis Jones stands out in ‘Cold Fusion’, as one of Spencer’s former police colleagues with a predictably murky past

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