Monday, 5 July 2010

Identity, ITV1

Here's a quick review of tonight's Identity on ITV1, starring Aiden Gillen and Keeley Hawes, wot I wrote for Orange. 

I enjoyed the show, but thought at times it was trying a bit too hard and self-consciously to be as cool as its US cousins. I'm sure we prefer our coppers to be a bit more rough and ready over here.

I liked the intricacies of the plot, even if some of the detectives' deductions required a bit of a leap of faith, and Gillen has got enough charm to add a new spin to the 'maverick cop' archetype.

The most awkward bit from a screenwriting point of view was Keeley Hawes' early interview with Chief Superintendent Exposition (Neil off The Office), which filled us in on Aiden Gillen's maverick ways and "damaged goods" status. It might have been better to see him in action, Lethal Weapon-style

Now maybe I've just been luckier than most, but my only exposure to identity theft has been someone using my credit card number to buy petrol in Mexico (while I was safely tucked up in Penge). However, if this glossy new crime drama is to be believed, there's a whole world of nasty people out there who will do anything to be you.

Identity stars Keeley Hawes as DCI Martha Lawson, the head of an elite unit set up to deal with identity-related wrongdoing. Her secret weapon is charismatic, rulebook-discarding maverick DI John Bloom (Aiden Gillen). He's spent the last 15 years on undercover missions, so knows a thing or two about pretending to be someone else.

The series opener started with the arrest of Justin Curtis (John Hopkins), an army veteran who'd been pushed over the edge by an identity thief known only as “Smith”. However, the team's investigations soon suggested that “Smith” had a more personal reason for targeting Curtis, and links with other cases began to appear.

The episode was pretty much all about Lawson and Bloom, including the obligatory suggestion of a bit of sexual tension between them. The other members of the team – the Wise-Cracking Techie One (Holly Aird), the Serious Black One (Shaun Parkes) and the Young Cocky One (Elyes Gabel) – didn't get much of a look in, although they'll probably get their moment in the sun as the six-part series develops.

The show was very shiny – they've naturally got a super-modern office and a nice bleepy computer network – and there's plenty of snappy dialogue as they pace around. However, the influence of all those slick US series meant it lacked some of the distinctive homespun flavour of something like Law and Order UK; it was a bit too obviously “TV”.

Anyway, the plot rattled along at a good old lick, with a couple of twists and a satisfying sense that things were never quite what they seemed. There was also an intriguing hint at the end that Bloom hadn't quite shaken off his last undercover job, setting up an interesting wrinkle in the “identity” theme for the rest of the series.

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