Thursday 1 May 2014


Airing in the 'foreign drama' slot at 9pm on BBC4 is new bilingual Welsh crime drama 'Hinterland'.  It seems we're so hungry for vicarious crimes which are always solved (if not prosecuted) that we want endless variations; your techs can be Roman, Victorian or mid-20th Century; based in Glasgow, Connemara, Shetland or now... Aberystwyth.  This latest offering has the same sea'n'sky scenery, lowering clouds and sleazy seafronts that lend tales of gore some dramatic background, and it also has brooding lead Richard Harrington as Menzies, posted somewhat unwillingly, it's hinted, to an unexciting beat which quickly proves him wrong, yielding a tale of old tragedies and fresh killings.

It's certainly moody and atmospheric, but like many in the genre, the plotline seems to come second.  Our hero leaps around Devil's Bridge in the pouring rain chasing after a corpse, happening to spot a tiny necklace and crucifix pendant (what else) on a rocky ledge.  In the rain?  He must have x-ray vision and amazing grips on his shoes (we have been, we have slipped, and we stuck to the paths).  His team's investigation - oh yes and there's a nerdy junior, two squabbling women and a remote boss, while we're on the subject: a hardly unfamiliar combination - leads to a failing hotel which was once a children's home.  The top floor hasn't yet been renovated, and probably never will be, but while it may be empty and eerie, how likely is it that there would be case files, furniture, toys and even old cine-film of the former occupants?  This echoes a recent episode of 'Endeavour' which was also gloriously spooky, but had an unlikely attic of a girl's school still stuffed full of family relics from a century earlier.

The terrible revelations in the news over recent years about institutional abuse in children's care homes has inspired a number of crime dramas, to the point where it's already becoming a cliche, and while this was a sad tale, there were early clues to the culprit, who had a baby nobody saw or heard and a neat home.  There was also a schizophrenic old woman who had run the children's home in a sadistic manner (all in the name of Almighty G) but loved at least one boy as a son.

Not bad but not brilliant either.

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