A strong cast make the first series of Innocent highly watchable, even if the storytelling never quite catches fire
“Do you still think he did it?”
Matthew Arlidge and Chris Lang’s Innocent passed me by when it premiered on ITV in 2018 but with the arrival of a second series and an unavoidable publicity push, I thought I’d go back and visit the first, not least because Lang’s stock has never been higher as the creator of Unforgotten. And before the review proper starts, a mildly silly note about names in dramas. I went to school with a David Collins so found it highly amusing but to name his brother Phil? And then never reference it…madness I tell you!
The show centres on the case of Collins who has spent seven years in prison, convicted of murdering his wife Tara. When a legal technicality sees him acquitted, he attempts the process of rebuilding his life. But with his sister-in-law now in custody of his two children and a high degree of suspicion still floating around the air as the police reopen the case to try and find out once and for all who killed Tara, that is much easier said than done.
Excellent casting elevates Innocent from being what could too easily be another run-of-the-mill drama. Lee Ingleby is all hangdog everyman charm as the newly freed David and as he locks horns with his dead wife’s sister Alice who has his kids, Hermione Norris scorches the screen with an impassioned performance that cleverly brings into question how much she knows about the original case. Throw in Elliot Cowan as Dave’s former bestie and Nigel Lindsay as a corner-cutting cop, and you’ve got a happy Clowns.
But…in a crowded marketplace of crime dramas, I’m not sure Innocent really makes its mark enough to stand out from the rest. The focus of the show feels rather haphazardly scattered as we switch between family drama, historical police investigation and current police investigation. Having the leader of the last be the partner of the second somewhat cheapened the impact of the neglectful action there and that aspect was never really resolved meaningfully. But still, a watchable drama that doesn’t drag its feet.