Starring Stephen Graham and Daniel Mays, Sky Comedy’s Code 404 treads an uneasy line between comedy, sci-fi and police procedural
“What’s with the birdbath?”
Created by Tom Miller, Sam Myer and Daniel Peak, Code 404 has a concept that feels like it ought to work but in its execution, somewhat misses the mark. Set (very loosely) in a near-future London, this is a world where technological advances have progressed so far as to be able to bring people back from the dead. So when DI John Major is killed in the line of duty, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end…
Problem is, the procedure is still experimental. So Daniel Mays’ John is more than a bit glitchy. And given that it took nearly a year to execute, his partner – Stephen Graham’s DI Roy Carver – has moved on and moved in with John’s widow – now wife again – played by the excellent Anna Maxwell Martin. And as they try to solve the case of John’s not-murder, all sorts of uncomfortable truths threaten to bubble to the surface.
What ends up being uncomfortable though is the uncertainy of tone. At its heart, Code 404 wants to be a slapstick romp, as farcical shenanigans abound, but too few of them actually come off as funny. And worse than that, it even becomes a little bit boring as it misjudges our level of engagement with the characters, assuming a familiarity and fondness from the outset which it simply hasn’t earned.
There are bright points throughout, actors of the calibre of Mays, Graham and Maxwell Martin can cover many a crack, and Rosie Cavaliero’s quirky DCS nails some offbeat comic notes. But I’d struggle to recommend this as something more to have on in the background tbh.