CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: Great cast, good action but Vigil is torpedoed by its dotty plotline
You wouldn’t want the headache Shaun Evans must have this morning. Not only was he falling-down drunk as DS Morse but, over on the other side in Vigil (BBC1), a dose of nerve gas left him frothing.
The gas seeped up his trouser leg, after he ripped his hazmat suit disposing of a canister of bio-warfare chemicals aboard his nuclear submarine. Luckily, heroic policewoman DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) was able to give him a quick washdown with bleach.
That seemed to cure the worst of his symptoms. Maybe Donald Trump, who advocated injections of bleach as an antidote for Covid, was on to something.
Vigil, which began with a preposterously far-fetched premise, got more crackers by the week
DCI Amy had less luck. Already tormented by claustrophobic nightmares of drowning in confined spaces, she was shoved into a torpedo tube by a Russian spy, who then started filling it with water.
She escaped by hammering on the walls of her iron coffin in Morse code. That’s Shaun Evans and Morse on BBC1, Shaun Evans as Morse on ITV.
What are the chances?
This wasn’t even the strangest coincidence of the evening. After an international incident that left U.S. warships sinking British trawlers, and all that business with the Kremlin’s secret agent, a Scottish peace campaigner tried to betray Vigil’s secrets to the Chinese. The UK was now in a stand-off with all three superpowers. I don’t fancy our chances in World War III.
Ludicrous though it all was, I’ll miss Vigil. The cast, co-starring Martin Compston, Paterson Joseph, Stephen Dillane and Adam James, has been outstanding
Vigil, which began with a preposterously far-fetched premise, got more crackers by the week. It couldn’t decide whether to be a murder mystery, a police procedural, a political thriller, a war movie or a disaster epic.
Woven into these conflicting genres was a double domestic drama. Amy was fighting a custody battle over her stepdaughter, while yearning for her lesbian lover, DS Kirsten (Rose Leslie), who also happened to be her police partner.
Most of this took place aboard the world’s most spacious sub. At one point, a crew member complained to her captain that it would take her at least five minutes to run the length of the ship. By my calculation, that means HMS Vigil is about half a mile long . . . bigger than most supertankers.
Ludicrous though it all was, I’ll miss Vigil. The cast, co-starring Martin Compston, Paterson Joseph, Stephen Dillane and Adam James, has been outstanding.
And while the control room of the sub looked more like the Starship Enterprise’s flight deck, it was good to see a lavish production with a big budget for CGI and a flair for Hollywood action set-pieces.
You could watch it twice and remain enthralled through both viewings — the first time to untangle the convolutions of the murders, the second to spot witty homages to stranded-at-a-hotel classics from Psycho to The Mousetrap
Endeavour usually evokes its era vividly. But the sheer energy of the plot carried us through
Endeavour (ITV), by contrast, looked as though it was shot for 30 bob. The main set was meant to be an abandoned hotel, though it seemed more like an empty warehouse with a couple of furnishings from a charity shop. One scene, with a double decker bus stranded in a blizzard, was comically unconvincing. You could almost see the stagehands throwing fistfuls of paper snow like confetti.
That’s a shame, because Endeavour usually evokes its era vividly. But the sheer energy of the plot carried us through.
You could watch it twice and remain enthralled through both viewings — the first time to untangle the convolutions of the murders, the second to spot witty homages to stranded-at-a-hotel classics from Psycho to The Mousetrap.
When Morse struggled through snowdrifts into a boiler room with an axe hanging on the back of a door, you could almost hear Jack Nicholson’s manic cackle in The Shining.
The great detective left to check in to a drying-out clinic. Let’s hope he’s taken plenty of aspirin with him.
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