Chasing Shadows: Here lurks a decent little mini-series

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Chasing Shadows: Here lurks a decent little mini-series

July 17, 2016 - 14:08
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This quirky four-part crime thriller really hits the spot if you’re not into intricate, mind-bending dramas that leave you wondering if you’re the only one who has no idea what’s going on.

Chasing Shadows

By Anna May

This quirky four-part crime thriller really hits the spot if you’re not into intricate, mind-bending dramas that leave you wondering if you’re the only one who has no idea what’s going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good twist and turn as much as the next person (not a euphemism, behave yourselves), but sometimes I just want to watch and enjoy without feeling I’m being continuously punched in the head with a fist full of bloated scenes and dialogue.

Thankfully, with Chasing Shadows we have the familiar teaming up of two very different individuals, but with a storyline that isn’t just about them secretly wanting to bang each other whilst solving a few crimes here and there. There are glimpses into their private lives too, which really help flesh them out and nurture a fondness for both. However, these are just glimpses. We’re not sent down long pipelines of history, so the story soon resumes with just enough background added each time.

Doctor Who fans will welcome Alex Kingston (River Song) as Ruth Hattersley, whose role at the Missing Persons Bureau is soon made far more interesting by the arrival of DS Sean Stone, played by Reece Shearsmith (League of Gentlemen, Inside No 9, Psychoville, Catterick, to name but a very few).

Having been banished from his position at the Police Station for speaking out publicly regarding the failure of an investigation, Stone’s new role assisting Ruth at the Bureau allows him leeway to be incredibly irritating and, at times, downright ignorant. His seemingly indifferent manner, however, is contrasted in private. At home we see his vulnerability and paranoia, which helps us like him a little more and accept his almost mechanical way of dealing with even the most emotionally charged of situations.

The series centres on serial killers and there are a few really intense scenes, but Shearsmith’s portrayal of DS Stone and Ruth’s reaction to him prevent the mood from falling directly into the darkness of the subject.

Yes, Stone is a little overplayed at times, but this helps to buoy the momentum and I don’t feel the character is played so hard that it leaves the realms of reality. Given the seriousness of the crimes in hand, there isn’t room for a slapstick copper here, but there is a need for more than just the usual heroic male and love interest female. Sean and Ruth make me smile, cringe and say, “Ahhh,” in equal measures. I like them.

Of course, Alex Kingston does a great job as Ruth and, as repellent as DS Stone is, she welcomes his help and her witty responses are snappily delivered, just as you’d expect. Also, as luck would have it, Ruth’s teenage son is obsessed with serial killers and always on hand to add his spin on a case. Yes, that does seem a bit too convenient, but his mum’s job does involve solving mysteries so it’s probably in the blood. Get over it.

When this mini-series was first aired a couple of years ago, some accused it of drawing too much on successful crime dramas already seen. To be fair to any writer, I don’t see why their work should be picked apart just because they choose not to stray too far from a basic formula that works and that viewers are comfortable with. Yes, I know, it’s great when they do and it’s a rip roaring success. Personally, though, I found Chasing Shadows to be perfect viewing for me and my teenage daughter. She even put her phone on silent, which is always a good sign.

Incidentally, a very lovely surprise is CS Harley Drayton, played by Don Warrington (Philip in Rising Damp). Oh my, this man’s voice is still as lovely as ever…and now I’m wondering how one would actually effect a ‘twist and turn’.

Chasing Shadows: Available on ITV Encore until 18 August

There are 2 Comments

Anna May's picture

No, I'm afraid not. It was repeated on ITV Encore, so I thought I would review it before it disappeared from the catch-up system.