Crime thriller

Top of the Lake (2013) [TV Series Review]

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Rating: 2/5

Number of episodes: 6

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Mounting expectation and then huge disappointment! That’s how Top of the Lake was. Recently, Season 2 of this series, which I am yet to watch, was aired and has gathered very great reviews. I, being someone who goes by the order, decided to watch Season 1 first before moving to Season 2. Now I am not sure if I will watch Season 2.

Top of the Lake has been a show on my watchlist for very long. I never got around watching it until now. It’s one of those shows which is painted in gloominess, both in setting and emotions. There has been a lot of shows which are based on child abuse. This show is one among them. I wouldn’t say the writers were insensitive or did injustice to the theme, but somewhere I felt, they completely lost track of the story.

In a small town in New Zealand, Tui Mitcham, a 12 year old girl, tries to kill herself by drowning but is rescued. On medical examination, it is discovered that she is pregnant. Detective Robin Griffin, a specialist in cases involving children, is called for help. She along with Detective Sergeant Al Parker tries to get to the bottom of the case. Matt Mitcham, Tui’s father, the head henchman of the town, tries to deal with the case on his own. He has several ugly disputes with GJ, a spiritual woman leader leading a group of troubled woman, over a land they occupy. When Robin questions Tui if she would tell who is behind the pregnancy, Tui refuses to answer directly. Matters get worse, when Tui disappears- runs away. Robin now has to find the abuser as well as find Tui before something happens to her.

This is a very disturbing plot, no doubt. The screenplay is very slow, and hence the story moves at a snail’s pace. I don’t really mind slow stories, but when the story moves away from the plot, focusing on other characters which don’t really make a difference to the story? That’s when the attention begins to waver. Robin Griffin is the lead of the show. For the first two episodes, she was effective- good with her intuition, head straight with her fellow male officers and all. She has a troubled past (no surprise there!), something similar to Tui and that’s where the narration shifts. The story tries to connect Robin and Tui’s story. Robin subsequently comes across as whining and complaining, self piteous, and her on and off relationship with Tom (Tui’s step brother) gets very irritating and takes the story away.

Looking from a different perspective, my view of the show, my complain that it strayed away from the plot is just because I read the plot online beforehand. Hence, I had a set expectation which might have driven me to the disappointing conclusion about the show. Even with a beautiful scenic setting, a dark hovering theme and a good performance from the cast, the final Sidney Sheldon type of ending overshadows all the good things for me. Al’s attraction towards Robin was sudden and on the face. Matt Mitcham’s outbursts were either overdone or overacted. I never understood the purpose of GJ and her troops. May be just to bring some weirdness? I feel quiet doubtful why I didn’t like the show much while the same show had garnered so many positive reviews, nominations and awards? Could it be because of binge watching it? Guess, that’s an entirely different story.

On the whole, Top of the Lake isn’t a very bad show. It’s creepy, weird and gloomy. It did get my attention for the first few episodes. Probably the in-between ones- Episode 4 and 5 weren’t that great and engaging and hence the loss of interest. You can watch this show for its magnificent setting and at times very exciting scenes, but yes, there are much better shows to spend your time on!

 

Paranoid (2016) [Review]

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Rating: 1.5/5

With the yearend 2016, it was time for every entertainment website to come up with their pick of the best shows of 2016. I was really proud to find that I had nearly watched all the best shows listed. There were a few left and I decided it was time I tick them off my list too. There were several interesting shows whose plot captured my attention. One of it was Paranoid. I was really eager to watch a police procedural, more so, which involved a team working together. I missed Cop teams like the ones in Castle or The Blacklist. Reading that this show had a team involved, I plunged into it without any second thought.

This 8 part series is set in a small town of Woodsmere. Very picturesque. A young doctor mother, Angela Benton, is killed in plain sight in a playground by a hooded man. The police team- Nina, Alec and Bobby are assigned the case as they try to figure out who the hooded man is and what’s the motive to kill the doctor. The hooded man is guessed to be Jacob but he is subsequently found dead too. The team receives anonymous tips from someone who had visited all the witnesses impersonating as Detective Gaylan. The team decides to call this anonymous detective as Ghost Detective. Following the Ghost Detective’s tip offs leads them to more clues. Further investigation links the case to Germany where the husband of Angela Benton is found dead. Bobby travels to Germany and works with the German Police- Linda and her team. One clue leads to another and suspicion falls on a pharmaceutical company. Evidences are sought to prove the charges.

I immediately associated the word Paranoid to a lot of suspense and thrilling moments. But that isn’t the case. The investigation is straight and simple. It is the characters and their anxiety which constitutes the title. Nina is anxious to have a baby. She is short tempered and blurts out insensitive comments. Outcome- she is really irritating. Alec is a calm and composed guy (sometimes behaving really weird) who is in search of the love of his life. Bobby, on the other hand, has panic attacks and is under medication. He is a loner. He loses grip over himself and gets nervous at any time. He finds solace in talking to Lucy, the main witness to Angela’s murder. These three cops stay as individuals, they are never a team. Everyone is scared of something, is paranoid of something which hinders their lives. That’s Paranoid. Hence, the main case loses track most of the time. It begins well but drags along. I assumed a lot of portions to fit the missing pieces at the end.

The actors are average. I have seen lots of work of Robert Glenister but most of them have been episodic. I was really excited to see him play a major role. Sadly, the character has no great potential and he looks too dull and tired playing it. The rest of the cast gives a very average performance too.

This show didn’t live up to my expectations and I still wonder how it made to the list of best shows in 2016. I get filled with so much anger thinking about the show, maybe I am just being paranoid about it.

SKIP IT!

The Missing (Season 2) [Review]

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Rating: 5/5

THIS IS THE BEST SHOW EVER!

I can’t remember how many times I exclaimed the above line while watching this show. Seriously! The Missing, especially this season, is one of the best written and brilliantly executed shows in recent times. There were literal “edge of the seat” shocking moments sending down a shivering thrill down the spine. It’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen. The term “thriller” suits aptly for this show.  This show is driven purely by its script and screenplay and ably supported by an extremely talented cast. Every episode is a surprise. At the end of every episode, after recovering from the shocking cliffhangers, I put my mind at work trying to theorise my way out of this magnificently tangled plot. But the next episode insensitively squashes all my theories with new clues, new characters and unexpected turning points. I know all these might sound very exaggerating, but believe me, this show is a MUST WATCH.

First, a little on the “The Missing” series. Every season is stand alone. 8 episodes. In the last season, we saw little Oliver Hughes disappearing and his parents along with French detective Julian Baptiste trying to find out the truth. This season, we have Alice Webster who disappears in 2003 to return in 2014. Where did she go? Who abducted her? The signature of this show is the timelines. There is usually two timelines. One when the kidnapping happens and one is the present. The show slowly brings these two timelines to meet. This season dealt with three timelines but showcased such efficiency in not getting things messed up. Clues are left here and there, pieces are scattered deliberately only to be put together at the end.

This season takes place in Germany. Sam Webster works for the British army in Germany. His daughter Alice Webster goes missing in 2003. His family is shattered but through years they learn to lead their lives. In 2014, their daughter returns leaving them all shocked but very happy. But Gemma, Alice’s mother, is sceptical as she finds her daughter very different. At the same time of her daughter’s disappearance, another girl by the name of Sophie Giroux went missing too. Alice claims both were held captive together. Julian Baptiste, who headed the Sophie case, enters the scene and analysis the entire situation. He deduces immediately. Alice Webster, who has returned to her family…she isn’t Alice Webster!!!!

There are so many turning points like the above leaving our heads spinning. The garrison where Sam works, his seniors are somehow involved, but how? The rest of the story is Baptiste’s journey towards truth as he fights his own health demons. The timelines are cleverly differentiated by the characters’ looks. For example: Sam has burns on his face in the present, Gemma’s hair is shorter in the past, Eve (army officer) is pregnant in the past, etc. Hence, there is no room for confusion.

The cinematography is fantastic. The weathers are portrayed nicely. Background score is excellent. The cast is extraordinary. My pick would be Tcheky Karyo (Baptiste), David Morrissey (Sam Webster) and Abigail Hardingham (Alice?). The rest of the cast is equally good too, but these three are my pick.

But the star of this show, without doubt, is the script. It’s air tight. The writers know where they have left a loose end and tied them up so perfectly at the end. When the pieces fit together, it’s an overwhelming feeling of victory.

The Missing is a show you shouldn’t miss. It has every element for a perfect thriller. Watch it! Watch it! Watch it!