TV Review: The Bletchley Circle – San Francisco

The Bletchley Circle – San Francisco sees half the original crew decamp to the US and you really, really wish that they hadn’t

“People don’t just walk in here and solve crimes”

The injection of dollars has revived the fortunes of many of a TV show but as with the case of Torchwood, it can come at quite the cost. Financed as a British and Canadian co-production The Bletchley Circle – San Francisco came as a spin-off of The Bletchley Circle but as it lost half its cast on the trip over the ocean, it also lost more than half the magic that made it work.

The series follows Millie (Rachael Stirling) and Jean (Julie Graham) as they decamp to San Francisco when a couple of murders there follow the pattern of the killing of one of their former colleagues Claire. Naturally, they fall in with a pair of former US codebreakers Iris (Crystal Balint) and Hailey (Chanelle Peloso) to try and crack the case the best way they know how.

You’d think it ought to work but the writing is just so cack-handed that it falls flat at every turn. Crucially, the big murder that draws this new foursome together feel far-fetched in the extreme and the show has to work overtime in order to manufacture circumstances that continue bind this unlikely transatlantic team together in the face of increasing disinterest.

But where The Bletchley Circle – San Francisco really fails is at constructing the wider societal picture in which these women are operating. Broadening its reach out this far ends up diluting its effectiveness, as it flails around issues of race, sexuality and gender with precious little subtlety. Much as I love Rachael Stirling, this is sadly best avoided.

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