TV Review: Silent Witness Series 24

After some significant cast changes, Series 24 of Silent Witness is fascinatingly unmoored with some wildly big swings

“I’m not used to dead bodies”

Hmm. After the departure of both Clarissa and Thomas at the end of the last season, you’d’ve thought Series 24 of Silent Witness would naturally have something of the air of a reset about it. Instead, there’s a sense of throwing 100 big ideas up in the air and seeing what sticks which makes for an uneven but often entertaining watch. 

Personnel-wise, there’s the introduction of Jason Wong’s highly qualified Dr Adam Yeun, and latterly Genesis Lynea’s forensic ecologist Dr Simone Tyler. But there’s also the swift killing-off of Adam in just his second story, having established him as a father of two young children this feels particularly harsh, almost as brutal as the way Nikki and Jack never, mention, him, again. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 24”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 23

What the… Series 23 of Silent Witness maintains a rich vein of form but then really upends the apple cart 

“What would Thomas do?”

All good things must come to an end, eh? Having settled into an excellent run of form with all four members of the Lyall team firing on all cylinders, Series 23 of Silent Witness culminates in some serious upheaval with the departure of no less than two of them in a brutally effective final story that probably ranks as one of the best ever.

So farewell to Clarissa, leaving on her own terms to pursue new opportunities, Liz Carr’s performance hands down one of the best on TV in and of itself before you even factor in the shot in the arm it has been for representation. And with a pleasingly meaty storyline involving her mother, it proved a satisfying journey although a gutting loss for the show. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 23”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 22

Series 22 of Silent Witness continues a rich vein of form as it hits 200 episodes of hot button topics

“Things don’t always conform to expectation”

Series 22 of Silent Witness sees the crime procedural hit the impressive landmark of 200 episodes and after the highs of the previous season, it maintains a strong standard of storytelling that keeps it feeling fresh, even if it does tend to fall back on its regular crutches as it refuses to let hardly any characters recur beyond their single stories. 

Even with Nikki having found love and managing to maintain a transatlantic relationship with Michael Landes’ US diplomat Matt from last time around, keeping him in Washington means he’s barely there. And new intern Alice, who gets to play a big part in the final case, is only introduced just beforehand which feels like a waste of Kiran Sonia Sawar (and also reduces the story’s emotional impact since she’s practically a stranger, qv Mexican intern Luisa from last season’s finale…). Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 22”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 21

Series 21 of Silent Witness is an absolute corker, some of its strongest work in years as it touches on the profoundly personal for the Lyell team

“You interfered in my investigation”

After a couple of good but not great seasons, Series 21 of Silent Witness finally cracks the code for this iteration of the Lyell team to come up with a superb string of episodes, its best in years. For me, this is mainly because the writers identified personal stories that actually resonated, that made sense for the characters for once, instead of just being bolted onto cases of the week.

So Nikki suffers badly from PTSD from the traumatic events of the Series 20 finale in Mexico (a rare occasion where past consequences are actually played out instead of just forgotten) and her shame at seeking therapy plays a crucial part in ‘Duty of Candour’. And Thomas’ role as a father is interestingly interrogated when his daughter comes to stay, navigating the issues that arise from his ex-wife starting a new family with her new fella. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 21”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 20

Series 20 of Silent Witness is a steady build of improvement even if it does put Nikki through the false jeopardy of mortal peril once again 

“What you did is overstep your role”

It is difficult to quite put my finger on it but Series 20 of Silent Witness does show a steady build in quality for the reconfigured Lyell Centre team (or maybe it is just me getting used to the changed dynamic). Nikki and Jack as co-leads, Thomas and Clarissa very much as supporting and the shift to wider forensic science bedding in well.

What I do particularly like is the way in which story strands increasingly wind around each other. So whilst there’s issues like people-trafficking and twisted internet buddies going rogue, there’s also a pleasing complexity to stories which fold in seemingly unconnected cases and/or crimes from the past, to harrowing effect in both ‘Discovery’ and ‘Remembrance’. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 20”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 18

As the dust settles on all the recent changes, Series 18 of Silent Witness turns out to be just a little bit average 

“If you think you can do better, you’re very welcome to try”

After some wholesale changes to the core team and indeed the remit of the show, Series 18 of Silent Witness is the first chance to really sees where the land lies now that the dust has settled. The biggest consequence is the shift to incorporating forensic science just as much as, if not more than, forensic pathology which of course lends much more credence to the team spending so much time out of the lab.

I say the team, I actually mean Nikki and Jack, as it is these two who unquestionably lead the investigations now, Emilia Fox and David Caves finding a nice chemistry. Richard Lintern’s Thomas may be the head of the Lyell but is comparatively considerably under-used. He’s less a third lead than a second supporting lead alongside Liz Carr’s Clarissa, whose dry wit makes her the MVP here. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 18”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 17

Series 17 of Silent Witness, in which the show feel very much still in transition, and we’re not just talking about Nikki’s haircut 

“One maverick on the team is enough”

Of course, having finally implemented the significant change that I was longing for, Series 17 of Silent Witness experiences a little bit of turbulence doesn’t quite nail the landing. With the sanctimonious Leo dispatched to the pearly gates, Richard Lintern’s Dr Thomas Chamberlain is introduced as the new forensic pathologist head honcho. But internally, the writers seem to have decided that Nikki is actually the lead and so Thomas finds himself very much sidelined throughout the series.  

Part of the issue is that they’re still figuring out the roles of newcomers Jack and Clarissa. David Caves’ Jack is posited as an insane Action Man figure, throwing himself into rugby-tackling and questioning suspects even with the police right there. It is noticeable that this is somewhat facilitated by more and more stories featuring fewer and fewer police characters, allowing for the appearance at least that the Lyell aren’t stepping on too many toes… And the writers still seem a little hesitant to consider Clarissa’s analyst a full member of the team.  Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 17”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 16

Series 16 of Silent Witness benefits hugely from the introduction of David Caves and Liz Carr as Jack and Clarissa and the booming final scene

“The Lyell Centre will need to change or die”

Starting with the off-screen departure of Harry and ending quite literally with a bang that further shuffles the cast, Series 16 of Silent Witness finally bites the bullet of the significant change that it needed probably 2 or 3 seasons ago. The introduction of David Caves and Liz Carr as Jack and Clarissa allows for the incorporation of forensic science more explicitly in the Lyell’s work. And if nothing else, the addition of new blood just freshens up the whole place.

In reality, there isn’t a huge amount that is altered fundamentally in the show. The cases run the usual gamut of dodgy police, dodgy military and dodgy foreign countries (Afghanistan in this case) and the Lyell remains holier than thou in pursuit of the truth. It takes Jack just a couple of episodes to learn the ropes in that respect, opting to call Nikki with a vital update about a suspect rather than the police officer managing the active crime scene. Priorities eh?! Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 16”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 15

Series 15 of Silent Witness ends up being a bit of a dud with both Harry and Leo getting close to the end of the road

“This is police business”

As has become increasingly obvious, criticising Silent Witness for not being a show about forensic pathology is a fruitless task, the blurring of the lines between the lab and fieldwork (aka stepping on the toes of police investigations) has long been a significant part of the show but once the deliberate sainted antagonism of Sam Ryan had gone, I felt that the writing had managed to balance it fairly well, finding a sweet spot where it rarely bothered me too much. 

Series 15 throws all that in the bin though. There’s police interview scenes with a single police officer but both Harry and Leo in there. There’s Leo marching into crime scenes without calling the police, chasing suspects through the forest out back and then casually walking right back into the house with nary a piece of PPE on him. I don’t mean to take it all so seriously but it is just so frustrating to watch, especially coming from so sanctimonious a character as Leo – I think Janet has eventually dodged a bullet here.  Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 15”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 14

With Kieran Bew with his top off and Barbara Flynn breaking every singe person’s heart, Series 14 of Silent Witness is mostly excellent. We just need to talk about Harry…

“If you’re deliberately trying to annoy me, you’re succeeding”

Series 14 of Silent Witness is the first one that contains episodes that I actually remember from first time around, two of them in fact. One – ‘Lost – can lay claim to being one of the best ever stories that the show has produced. The other indulges in a fakeout that had me hook line and sinker at the time though as I recall, not my dad!

It’s a season that start off tremendously, the serial killer vibes of ‘A Guilty Mind’ and the decades-spanning effects of ‘Lost’ offering up a different take on forensics for once. But towards the end of the run, it is clear that a decision has been made (who knows by whom) to give Harry more to do and that throws things off balance. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 14”