TV Review: The Drowning (Channel 5)

I’d follow Deborah Findlay anywhere but Channel 5’s schlocky drama The Drowning might have been a step too far

“I understand how it feels to lose someone”

The premise of The Drowning, Channel 5’s newest original drama, seemed intriguing enough and its first episode mostly delivered on that promise. At a family picnic, 4 year old Tom goes missing, drowned in a lake, and his mother’s life naturally shatters. Nine years later, Jodie spots a teenage boy who bears a scar on his face that looks just like one Tom has and becomes convinced that it is, in fact, her son.

Directed by Carolina Giammetta, Luke Watson and Francesca Brill’s drama has clear designs on aping the Nordic Noir vibes of many a Scandi-drama, not least in its beautiful colour palette, but it is let down by some horrific writing choices that see it veer far closer to trashy thriller than affecting crime drama in the vein of, say, Unforgotten. Continue reading “TV Review: The Drowning (Channel 5)”

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. Continue reading “TV Review: The Drowning – Episode 1 (Channel 5)”

Review: Chess, London Coliseum

Nobody’s on nobody’s side – an all-star cast can’t save this game of Chess from itself, for me at least

“From square one I’ll be watching all sixty-four”

It’s taken over 30 years for Chess to return to the West End (though it was seen at the Union in 2013) and though it has a huge amount of resource thrown at it in Laurence Connor’s production for English National Opera, it doesn’t necessarily feel worth the wait. An 80’s mega-musical through and through with an intermittently cracking score from ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Richard Nelson’s book hasn’t aged particularly well and bears the hallmarks of the  substantial tinkering it has had at every opportunity.

It’s not too hard to see why it has needed the tinkering. The mix of Cold War politics told through the prism of rival US and Soviet chess Grandmasters, love triangles and power ballads is a tricky one to get right and part of the problem seems to be just how seriously to take it all. On the one hand, the chess matches are backgrounded with montages of the real-life tensions of the 80s; on the other, scenes that take us through the various locations of the tournaments are a cringeworthy riot of cultural stereotyping that revel in their utter kitsch. Continue reading “Review: Chess, London Coliseum”