TV Review: The Drowning – Episode 1 (Channel 5)

Channel 5 drama The Drowning has a cast headed up by some great names – Jill Halfpenny, Rupert Penry-Jones, Jade Anouka – and its first episode proves intriguing 

“We were all at the lake that day and he always blamed me”

I would go most places for Deborah Findlay and so this week I am watching Channel 5 for the first time in…I couldn’t tell you how long, the launch show with the Spice Girls covering Manfred Mann…? Created by Luke Watson and Francesca Brill, The Drowning follows Jill Halfpenny’s Jodie as she becomes fixated on a teenager who she is sure is her son Tom, who drowned nine years ago at the age of four but whose body was never recovered.

As a depiction of the shattering effects of grief, how it remakes every single relationship in your life, this first episode is particularly good. Halfpenny nails the abrasive side of Jodie’s personality as she screws over friends, family and exes in her relentless pursuit of the boy she believes to be Tom, caring little for the chaos in her wake, the damage she perpetuates even as she still tries to recover from her own.

In terms of a thriller, we’ll have to wait and see as we veer deep into improbability very early on despite a directorial tone that is quite serious-minded and naturalistic. It remains to be seen if a balance between drama and schlock-fest can be achieved. And the marvellous Deborah Findlay is sorely under-used thus far, I hope we see more of her as Jodie’s slightly bemused mother.

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