Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Father and Son, ITV1

Here's a review of tonight's Father and Son that I've just written for Orange. The really important bit is in the final paragraph.

(Here's a heartbreaking piece that Frank Deasy wrote for The Guardian a few days before he died.)

ITV might be feeling a bit battered after its drama came away from Sunday night's BAFTA TV Awards empty-handed, but it came out fighting last night with the first episode of Father and Son, a gritty four-part thriller that's showing each night this week. 

Set against the backdrop of Manchester's gang culture, it tells the story of Michael O'Connor (Dougray Scott), a one-time Mr Big who's trying to go straight with his new wife in the Irish countryside. However, everything changes when his estranged son Sean (Reece Noi) ends up – mistakenly – charged with the murder of a rival gang member.

Michael heads back to England to help Sean, but soon realises he'll have to lay his own ghosts to rest first. When his old gang buddy Barrington (Terence Maynard) makes him an offer he can't refuse, it's clear his peaceful new life will have to go on hold for a while.

Dougray Scott has got a menacing presence (squint a bit and he could pass for Ray Liotta), but – in the first episode at least – he isn't given much to do other than prowl and scowl. His accent is also a bit off the mark; you'd love to hear Max Beasley spit out some of his lines with a real Manc snarl.

The rest of the cast is a bit useful; Sophie Okonedo is rock solid as Sean's aunt (and a copper working on gun crime), but Ian Hart seems a bit wasted as her boss, DCI Tony Exposition... er, Conroy, who handily fills us in on Michael's shady past. Steven Rea also slips into the action by the end as a menacing former IRA godfather turned money launderer.

Some of the surface stuff might seem a bit familiar (gun-totting hoodies on mountain bikes, a grizzled old villain trying to leave the past behind), but the story's going in a number of directions and there should be enough emotional twists and turns to hold your attention over four nights.

Sadly, Father and Son was one of the final scripts completed by Emmy-winning writer Frank Deasy, who died last year aged 49 after a battle with cancer and a lengthy wait for a liver transplant. Click here for further information on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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