Not even the return of Amanda Burton’s Sam Ryan can’t rescue a misconceived Series 25 of Silent Witness
“He should face justice the proper way”
Can you guess (or remember) how many of Silent Witness’s 25 series original star Amanda Burton led as the inimitable Professor Sam Ryan? The answer is 7, as she left in the first story of Series 8 but her impact is legendary, not least in the immortal French and Saunders’ takeoff Witless Silence. And as the show celebrates its quarter-century, it is only fit that Burton has returned as a special guest.
But whether due to COVID or anniversary concerns, Series 25 of Silent Witness takes the unusual step of stripping a single overarching story over its 6 episodes rather than its regular 2-part stories. And this is a bit of a mixed bag in the end. It allows for Sam Ryan to dip in and out of the entire series as her new role as a private health consultant with her eyes on the health data of the nation brings her into contact once again with the Lyell.
To be honest, the conspiracy-theorist-tinged narrative about DNA manipulation left me cold – I really didn’t care about any aspect of it. Worse than that though, was the shoehorning in of personal strife for each and every one of the Lyell team. Nikki got a new secret husband from the past, Jack lost a father and gained a ma (ish) and Simone found and lost a sister and niblings, it was just relentless.
Throw in the deep ickiness of Jack and Nikki having kinda, sorta, gotten together, and it is a wonder that there’s any time for any forensic science. The sidelining of the ‘case of the week’ element is particularly problematic here, meaning the few cases that the team are called to are under-developed and under-characterised, making this a highly unsatisfactory series for me.